NINE whistleblowers contacted Barnsley Council last year with their concerns regarding employee behaviour - and the figures could rise due to people being put under more ‘financial pressure’ in the cost-of-living crisis.

The council has had a corporate whistleblowing policy since 2000, and has undergone a number of revisions over the years to ensure it remains fit for purpose.

The arrangements of the policy are part of a wider framework of how employees - and others - are able to voice their concerns.

Over the last 12 months, a total of nine issues have been raised with the council - six of which were made anonymously.

The majority of the incidents have now been closed by the council - which involved alleged criminal activity, management behaviour and employee behaviour.

Four of the investigations concluded there was no evidence to support the allegation, whilst the rest saw ‘appropriate action taken’ - including regarding the alleged criminal activity.

The only open investigation currently relates to an anonymous tip-off regarding management behaviour.

The report states: “Although there have only been these nine instances where the specific confidential reporting arrangements have been used, there have been other matters raised directly with senior management, both anonymously and with names provided.

“In these cases, advice is sought from the corporate anti-fraud team, internal audit or one of the corporate whistleblowing officers.

“In all cases the circumstances of the matter are considered to identify any opportunities for learning and particularly in the improvement of controls.”

The report also alluded to employees potentially committing more wrongdoing during the cost-of-living crisis.

“Although unpleasant to consider, there is a recognised increased risk to all organisations that when the general economic situation worsens and individuals are put under personal financial pressure,” the report added.

“There can be a temptation for employees, and those external to organisations to undertake some kind of wrongdoing.

“As we know and appreciate, the vast majority of employees in the council (and in all organisations) are honest and trustworthy and won’t tolerate others depriving the council of its resources.”