Half (54%) of UK employers now have measures in place to enable whistleblowers to report fraud-related or other suspect activity. This is an increase compared to last year when only 40% of UK businesses had whistleblowing hotlines, according to the latest International Business Report (IBR) survey from finance and business advisors, Grant Thornton UK LLP.
The survey canvassed the opinion of 500 private businesses in the UK on what fraud prevention practices are in place in their companies. It also revealed that 49% of these companies employ specialists to detect fraud. Again this is an increase from last year when only 37% had specialists in place.
Sterl Greenhalgh, Forensic Partner at Grant Thornton, commented:
"This is good news as hotlines are an important safeguard for both companies and employees and are a key element in creating an ethical business culture. Equally, the FSA recently reported a doubling in the number of whistleblowers. This could be down to a number of reasons but, most likely, the rise is linked to the economic downturn, when fraud does tend to increase and become more apparent.”
"Furthermore, in the current economic climate, where moral questions have been raised on such issues as MPs' expenses and on the bonuses of high earners, employees may have fewer qualms as they see it about 'grassing' co-workers.
"Whistleblowers should know that they are currently protected by the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 which protects against dismissal and discriminatory treatment providing the whistleblower has acted in good faith and has not gained personally from the disclosure.
“Furthermore, in addition to preventing fraud, these specialists will also have to respond to the new Bribery Act, which will introduce later this year a new corporate offence of failing to prevent bribery. Prevention is better than detection, and preventative measures must be tailored to each businesses' needs. Companies should begin the review and revision of their existing policies and procedures for preventing fraud and anti-competition risk, and adapt and align these to embrace corruption risk.
"Training staff about corruption will also be critical if they are to have the confidence of using the company's whistleblowing hotline.”