The National Audit Office has today published a report on the role of prescribed persons in whistleblowing. Prescribed persons, as prescribed under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998, are independent bodies or individuals that can be approached by whistleblowers where an approach to their employers would not be appropriate. Prescribed persons, which usually have an authoritative relationship with the whistleblowers’ organizations, can be regulatory or legislative bodies, central government departments, arm’s length bodies or charities and include all Members of Parliament.
One of the principal conclusions of today’s NAO investigation is that more needs to be done to reduce the gap between the actions of prescribed persons and whistleblowers’ expectations, whilst recognizing that it is unlikely that the gap will ever be fully closed. Sir Robert Francis, in publishing his recent independent review, noted the challenges in encouraging whistleblowers to speak up. Whistleblowers will on occasion continue to feel let down by the arrangements in place and this does not encourage potential whistleblowers to raise concerns with confidence.
Today’s report calls on the wider government to do more to understand the experience of whistleblowers and to act where whistleblowers suffer detriment.
This is the NAO’s third report on whistleblowing. The first reviewed whistleblowing policies from 39 bodies, including its own, against good practice. The second focused on how organizations provide the best conditions to encourage people to come forward.