Effective whistleblowing mechanisms are a key part of good governance. A healthy open culture is one where people are encouraged to speak out, confident that they can do so without adverse repercussions, confident that they will be listened to, and confident that appropriate action will be taken.
This is to the benefit of organisations, individuals and society as a whole. It is now some 14 years since the Open Democracy Advice Centre (ODAC) was established and some 15 years since the Protected Disclosures Act (PDA) was passed, but we are still seeing so much harm, in all parts of our society, where effective whistleblowing could have resulted in early detection and prevention. Often individuals did speak out but were not listened to and no actions were taken. Many of the whistleblowers suffered serious reprisals for having had the courage to speak out. Often they did not raise their concerns correctly and so did not benefit from the protection of the PDA.
It is against this background that ODAC has decided to draft a Code of Good Practice (Whistleblowing) after consultations with various oorganisations and individuals.
We have had consultations over the past few years about taking whistleblowing policy and law to the next level. With changes to the legislation in sight, we can say that many of the current deficits in law will be addressed, but the implementation challenges will remain.
The thinking at ODAC is that we need a Code which sets out the key principles and practices of effective whistleblowing. We need a Code to strengthen the protections offered whistleblowers and for employers to be ensured of responsible whistleblowing.