The term whistleblowing is used when an individual provides information in relation to a wrongdoing; this will usually be something that is witnessed at work. This is known as making a disclosure. The person who makes the disclosure is known as a whistle-blower.
If a worker brings information about a wrongdoing to the attention of their employers or a relevant organisation, they are protected in certain circumstances under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998.
In order to be protected by whistleblowing law the disclosure must be “qualifying”. This means that the worker must have reasonable belief that making the disclosure is in the public interest. In addition to that, there must also be reasonable belief that the disclosure tends to show past, present or likely future wrongdoing in one of the following categories:
- Criminal offences
- Failure to comply with an obligation set out in law
- Miscarriages of justice
- Endangering of someone’s health and safety
- Damage to the environment
- Or concealing wrongdoings in the above categories
The Lord Advocate is a prescribed person in terms of The Prescribed Persons (Reports on Disclosures of Information) Regulations 2017 for the purpose of whistleblowing regarding serious or complex fraud in Scotland. In Scotland the Specialist Casework section of COPFS (Scotland’s prosecution service) will investigate matters on behalf of the Lord Advocate.
A prescribed person is an individual or organisation that a worker may approach outside their workplace to report suspected or known wrongdoing. The role of a prescribed person is to provide workers with a mechanism to make their public interest disclosure to an independent body where the worker does not feel able to disclose directly to their employer and the body is in a position to take further action on said disclosure.
A. Individuals can report a case of serious or complex fraud either by writing, telephoning or emailing COPFS. It is worth noting that fraud is not just limited to money but can also be non-financial, the most obvious being misuse of confidential data.
A. The relevant contact details are:
Procurator Fiscal Specialist Casework
25 Chambers Street
Tel: 0300 020 0457
A. As much detail as possible would be helpful. A whistle-blower will be required to at least give the following information:
- The nature of the offence and a background of the circumstances
- Details of the suspect
- The whistle-blower’s details if they chose not to report anonymously