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Whistleblowing policy

Clean Air Fund's whistleblowing policy aims to encourage staff and partners to feel confident in raising serious concerns, and provides ways for them to raise such concerns and get feedback on any action taken as a result. 


1. The Charity is committed to ensuring that it operates ethically and lawfully, and that its charitable assets are applied lawfully for the purposes they are given. The Charity encourages the highest standards of transparency and accountability amongst its staff, its grant recipients and other stakeholders, so that they operate in an ethical and lawful manner and in compliance with relevant laws and regulations.    

2. This policy is to assist individuals who believe they have discovered malpractice or impropriety.  

3. The aim of this policy is to encourage staff and partners to feel confident in raising serious concerns and to provide ways for them to raise such concerns and get feedback on any action taken as a result. 

Types of activities which should be reported 

4. Whistleblowing is the disclosure of information which relates to suspected wrongdoing or dangers at work. A whistleblower is a person who raises a genuine concern related to suspected wrongdoing or danger (a “whistleblowing concern“). Examples of activities which should be reported include, but are not limited to:   

5. Criminal activity, including theft, fraud and any breach of the Bribery Act 2010;   

  • Failure to comply with legal obligations;   
  • Miscarriages of justice, or likely miscarriages of justice;   
  • The health and safety of an individual being put at risk;  
  • The Charity being in breach of the law;  
  • The environment being put in danger; or  
  • The deliberate concealment of information relating to any of the above.   

5. Matters involving personal grievances (e.g. bullying, harassment and discrimination) are taken extremely seriously by the Charity, but are not typically covered by whistleblowing law, unless the concern is one of public interest. If employees have a concern which relates to a personal grievance, then they should refer to CAF’s Grievance Policy. 

Reporting guidance for staff members 

6. All staff are expected to speak to their Manager, the Director of Operations & Finance, the HR Director or the Chief Executive Officer in the first instance.   

7. If there is a reason not to report a whistleblowing concern to one of these parties, concerns may be reported directly to the Chair of Trustees who can be reached at chair@cleanairfund.org.  

    8. We encourage staff or partners to make disclosures in their own name. Proper investigation may be more difficult or impossible if we cannot obtain further information from the reporter of the concern. It is also more difficult to establish whether any allegations are credible. 

      9. The confidentiality of any staff member raising a whistleblowing concern will be respected as far as possible. If employees want to raise their concern confidentially, we will make every effort to keep their identity secret. 

        10. We recognise that whistleblowers are sometimes worried about possible repercussions. Employees should be reassured that the law protects workers from suffering any detrimental treatment (including dismissal, disciplinary actions, threats or other unfavourable treatment) as a result of raising a genuine concern regarding any of the activities listed in section 4. 

          11. Additionally, the Charity will still investigate anonymous disclosures as far as is possible. 

            12. Employees must not threaten or retaliate against whistleblowers in any way. The Charity is committed to ensuring that whistleblowers do not suffer any detrimental treatment as a result of raising a genuine concern. If employees are involved in threatening or retaliatory conduct against whistleblowers they may be subject to disciplinary action. In some cases, the whistleblower could even have the right to sue employees personally. 

            Reporting guidance for Clean Air Fund’s partners 

            13. The Charity’s project partners (whether grant recipients, funders, contractors or other stakeholders) and their directors, officers, employees, and/or volunteers are actively encouraged to report any activity which has resulted or might result in the misappropriation of the Charity’s assets or which relates to projects funded by the Charity and is or may be illegal or improper.    

            14. Partners should in the first instance submit whistleblowing reports to their Programme Officer. The Programme Officer will then liaise internally to follow the investigation procedure. 

              15. Alternatively partners can raise a concern directly by email to: whistleblower@cleanairfund.org . This email address is monitored by the Charity’s Director of Operations & Finance.  

                16. If a Partner wishes to report concerns regarding the Director of Operations & Finance or CEO at the Charity, Partners are also invited to send their concerns confidentially to the Chair of Trustees at chair@cleanairfund.org. 

                Whistleblowing investigations procedure 

                17. Following a disclosure by a staff member or Partner, the Director of Finance and Operations will appoint an independent and impartial investigating officer.  

                18. The investigating officer will commence an investigation as quickly as possible, respecting the confidentiality wishes of the complainant as far as possible.

                19. It is not possible to lay down a precise timescale for such an investigation but the employee or partner raising the concern will be given a date when feedback on the investigation will be given.

                20. The procedural steps for such an investigation will be as follows:

                • a record will be made of receipt of the disclosure and Clean Air Fund will appoint an appropriate investigating officer;
                • full details and clarification of the complaint will be obtained
                • the individual whose act or omission is responsible for the complaint will be informed of the complaint as soon as is practically possible;
                • The investigation officer will produce a report including a conclusion recommending if the complaint is upheld and any actions or learnings the Charity should take.
                • If required, a hearing will be arranged with sufficient time for the person against whom the complaint is made to collate information to address the complaint. They have the right to be accompanied to this meeting by a work colleague or trade union representative
                • The hearing will be chaired by a member of the Charity’s Senior Leadership Team
                • once the investigation and hearing completed, Clean Air Fund will inform the reporter of the complaint in writing if appropriate and subject to any third party rights, of the outcome of the investigation.

                21. If the complainant is an employee and has any concerns or complaints about the manner in which they feel they are being treated because they made the disclosure, whether by the alleged wrongdoer or by any colleagues, they should raise this with another member of the SLT and it may be dealt with as a disciplinary matter in relation to such individuals.

                22. If the complainant is a member of staff and is dissatisfied with the outcome of the investigation, a complaint should be made in writing to a member of the Executive Team, who will investigate the matter and report back to the individual. The decision of the member of the Executive Team will be final.

                23. If the investigation finds the complaint unsubstantiated and internal procedures have been exhausted but the complainant is not satisfied with the outcome, we recognise the lawful rights of employees to make disclosures to prescribed persons (such as the Health and Safety Executive). Please see ‘Raising Concerns with External Bodies’ below.

                24. If an individual makes a vexatious or malicious allegation and/or if they continue to make these allegations despite a decision that they are unsubstantiated, the complainant (if a member of staff) may be subject to disciplinary action.

                Raising concerns with external bodies

                25. This policy does not prevent concerns being raised directly with appropriate external bodies. Cases that are reported internally relating to suspected criminal activity, including but not limited to financial impropriety, would be reviewed by the CEO and the relevant senior management team member to decide whether they should be referred to the police or other relevant body.

                26. We strongly encourage employees to seek advice before reporting a concern to anyone external. The independent whistleblowing charity, Public Concern at Work, operates a confidential helpline for employees. It also has a list of prescribed regulations for reporting certain types of concern. Its contact details can be found on the Protect website.

                27. If any complainant decides to blow the whistle to a prescribed person outside the organisation rather than to the Charity, a list of the prescribed persons and bodies to whom disclosures can be made can be found here. There is also a brief description about the matters which can be reported to each prescribed person.