- Posted by: Joyce Watson MS
- Category: Feature
In a debate at the National Assembly for Wales on Wednesday (11 January), Assembly Member Joyce Watson argued that Pembrokeshire Council must do more to protect and encourage whistleblowers.
The Pembrokeshire-based AM for Mid and West Wales asked the Business Minister and Leader of the House, Jane Hutt AM whether Pembrokeshire Council has improved whistleblowing procedures for frontline staff, following two reports that severely criticised the council’s child protection measures.
Mrs Watson said: “The importance of whistleblowing has been brought to the fore in Pembrokeshire, with the exposure of systemic failure in the way the council has dealt with child safety issues.
“Apart from the tragedy of the way children were betrayed and let down, there was also the tragedy of the front-line staff who recognised that things were seriously wrong, but who were unable to do anything about it because of the lack of accountability and transparency.
“Pembrokeshire Council must improve whistleblowing mechanisms for front-line staff, so that they feel that they too can have a voice.”
Last October, the Deputy Minister for Children and Social Services set up a special Ministerial board to help the troubled council overcome its failings. At the time, in a statement to the Assembly (20 September 2011), the Deputy Minister said the new ministerial board must have whistleblowing “at its heart”.
The Business Minister responded to Mrs Watson, saying she would raise her concerns with the relevant people at the Welsh Government and Pembrokeshire County Council.
In August 2011, a joint investigation by schools inspectorate Estyn and the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW) found serious shortcomings in Pembrokeshire Council’s ability to protect children. In November, a second report carried out by five inspectorates – Estyn, CSSIW, Healthcare Inspectorate Wales (HIW), HM Inspectorate of Probation (HMIP) and HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) – again criticised poor child protection and safe guarding measure at the council.
“The inspectors’ reports tell us time and again that whistleblowing is vital to the public interest. People who are prepared to do it must be protected and they must be listened to,” Mrs Watson said.