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We are committed to the highest standards of openness, probity and accountability.  An important aspect of accountability and transparency is a mechanism to enable member companies and individuals to voice concerns in a responsible and effective manner.

It should be emphasised that this policy is intended to assist member companies and individuals who believe they have discovered malpractice or impropriety.  It is not designed to question financial or business decisions taken by CREST nor should it be used to reconsider any matters which have already been addressed under harassment, complaint or other procedures.

This policy is designed to deal with concerns raised in relation to specific issues of wrongdoing which may be illegal, against the public interest or damaging to the reputation of CREST or its members.  Any such actions would be contrary to our Code of Ethics and/or Codes of Conduct.

If you are aware of incidents or activity by a member company or an individual that either holds one of our certifications or who has taken one of our examinations that is contrary to our Code of Ethics and/or Codes of Conduct, you should not hesitate to get in touch with us and ‘speak up’ or ‘blow the whistle’.

We recognise that there may be concerns that by reporting such issues, the discloser may be subject to some adverse action so the process below outlines how to report an incident anonymously if desired and the protection that this will offer.

We endorse the provisions set out below to ensure that member companies or individuals should not feel at a disadvantage for raising legitimate concerns.

What is Whistleblowing?
Whistleblowing is when an act, often illegal, is disclosed which the person(s) committing the act would not wish to become public knowledge.  The wrongdoing disclosed must be in the public interest. This means it must affect others, for example the wider membership or the public.  Officially this is called ‘making a disclosure in the public interest’.

Whistleblowing is distinct from complaints, employment disputes and grievance.  Further information is available here:  https://www.gov.uk/whistleblowing

Whistleblowing in the United Kingdom is protected by the Public Interest Disclosure Act (PIDA) 1998 (http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1998/23/contents)

Complaints that count as whistleblowing and which are protected by law are:

  • Criminal activity
  • Financial malpractice, fraud or impropriety
  • Dangers to health and safety or the environment
  • Improper conduct or unethical behaviour, for example bribery or corruption
  • Failure to comply with a legal obligation or statutes, for example an organisation not having the right insurance
  • Attempts to conceal any of these

Complaints that conform with CREST criteria for whistleblowing include:
Although not possible to provide a complete list of issues that might cause concern and give rise to whistleblowing, the following list gives some examples to act as indicators in addition to those cited above

  • Any form of unethical behaviour that could potentially cause harm (including disrepute) to individuals, institutions, or the industry as a whole
  • Dangerous practices
  • Negligence and evasion of statutory responsibilities
  • Breaches of CREST policies or Codes
  • Breach of regulations in respect of information security
  • Unprofessional or illegal conduct

Complaints that do not count as whistleblowing are:

  • Expressions of personal dissatisfaction (eg. with a product or service being received).  Anyone that wishes to raise these types of complaints should follow our Complaints Process.
  • A dispute about their own employment position or contract.  If an individual experiences such a dispute, it should be taken up with the employer or another responsible body.  We cannot investigate or take any action over such instances for individuals who are not employed by us.
  • Personal grievances (for example bullying, harassment, discrimination) unless the case is in the public interest.  These should be reported under the employer’s grievance policy.

Where appropriate, member companies and CREST qualified individuals should utilise our Complaints Processes available via the links on the right of this page.

This policy is designed to offer protection to those who disclose concerns provided that the disclosure is made:

  • in good faith;
  • in the reasonable belief of the individual making the disclosure that it tends to show malpractice or impropriety as outlined above.

If an individual makes an allegation in good faith, which is not confirmed by subsequent investigation, no action will be taken against that individual.  In making a disclosure, the individual should exercise due care to ensure the accuracy of the information.  If, however, an individual makes malicious or vexatious allegations, and particularly if they persist in making them, sanctions applied may be applied.

Information relating to health status, political or religious beliefs, or sexual orientation must not be included in any report.

How to make a Disclosure
Anyone has the right to blow the whistle if they feel it is right to do so and in the public interest.  Whilst we do not expect absolute proof of wrongdoing, the whistleblower will need reasonable cause to assume that the information is true at the time of reporting and will need to show the reasons for concern.

Any member company or an individual who either holds one of our certifications, or who has taken one of our examinations, making such information known to us through the appropriate channels will not face any adverse or unfavourable treatment for such disclosure.

How to Contact Us
[email protected]

Who receives the disclosure
Messages sent to the email address above will normally be received by the CREST President and the Head of Governance & Legal for processing.  If the discloser believes that this would be inappropriate, they should state this in their first contact with us, without any obligation to reveal the information they wish to share, and the remainder of the correspondence will be directed to an independent third party.  Where necessary, non-disclosure agreements will be in place, or will be put in place.

However, if an independent investigator has already been appointed to handle a matter, a separate email address is available that will only be received by them – [email protected] .  For the avoidance of any doubt, in these instances no members of staff, contracted organisations or CREST Council members will have visibility of email messages sent to that address.

This policy encourages individuals to put their name to any disclosures they make.  Concerns expressed anonymously are less credible, but they may be considered.  In these circumstances, the factors that will be taken into account include:

  • The seriousness of the issues raised.
  • The credibility of the concern.
  • The likelihood of confirming the allegation from attributable sources.

An individual raising a concern anonymously will have no say in how the concern is dealt with.  CREST, or an investigator, can keep the individual informed about the action taken, but neither can give much detail if the confidence of other people must be maintained.

Investigation Process
For the purposes of this Process, the terms “discloser” and “accuser” mean the individual raising the concern.

CREST is committed to ensuring that all disclosures under this policy are treated in confidence, efficiently and in accordance with our values and applicable law.  Any investigation will be conducted impartially by all investigating parties involved.

If the discloser has provided their name and contact details, we will acknowledge receipt of the concern.  It may be necessary to seek further contact to gain additional information.  The allegation will then be investigated as follows and an appropriate response determined.

Once a concern has been raised, we have a duty to pursue the matter.  This means that it will not be possible to prevent the matter being investigated by subsequently withdrawing the allegation.  If the outcome results in a proven case of wrongdoing/malpractice, action will be taken against the relevant party/ies.

Depending on the nature of the concern, CREST may appoint independent investigators (“Investigating Officer(s)”) to support CREST in investigating the matter or to conduct the investigation on CREST’s behalf.  Appropriate non-disclosure agreements will be put in place.

In certain circumstances, CREST or the Investigating Officer(s) may decide not to investigate the report.  This may be the case in the following situations (provided an non-exclusive examples):

  • the information obtained is insufficient in order to carry out an adequate investigation and no further information is available; or
  • if the report has been made anonymously, the anonymity may prevent further investigation if, for example, the information obtained is deemed insufficient in order to initiate an investigation and/or if the veracity of the information provided cannot be reliably established; or
  • the report was not provided in good faith, or
  • if an investigation has already been made.

If there is evidence of criminal activity, the police will be informed.  CREST will ensure that any internal investigation does not hinder a formal police investigation.

CREST and/or the Investigating Officer(s) will, where possible to maintain the necessary confidentiality, keep the discloser apprised (if they have provided their name) of the investigative actions taken, their rationale, the outcome and when the investigation has been concluded.  Not all details of the investigation may be disclosed as it may not be appropriate to do so for confidentiality or legal reasons.

If the allegation is not proven by the investigation and if the discloser did not deliberately raise an allegation known to be untrue, no action will be taken against the discloser.

If the allegation was made due to a genuine misunderstanding, the individual(s) who were the subject of the investigation will be expected to bear no malice or ill feeling towards their accuser (if the accuser has been identified) and those colleagues should not mistreat the accuser.

If, however, the investigation concludes that an allegation was raised that was known not to be true, we reserve the right to take further action against the discloser.

We reserve the right to pursue a member or individual for damages, if appropriate.

Due to the varied nature of these sorts of complaints, which may involve internal/external investigators and/or the police, it is not possible to lay down precise timescales for such investigations.  The Investigating Officer(s) should ensure that the investigations are undertaken as quickly as possible without affecting the quality and depth of those investigations.

If the investigation is a prolonged one, the Investigating Officer(s) should keep the discloser informed, in writing, as to the progress of the investigation and when it might be concluded.  All responses to the discloser should be in writing, preferably sent to a home address and marked “confidential”.

Making your disclosure anonymously or confidentially
It is the right of the discloser to choose to remain anonymous if they are concerned about repercussions.  Whilst we will try to respect these wishes with regard to confidentiality, this may not be possible in the following circumstances:

  • The police, fraud prevention agencies or other law enforcement agencies require information from the disclosure in order to investigate or prevent crime, including fraud.
  • CREST is obligated to do so by a court of law.
  • There is another person or organisation to whom CREST is required by law to disclose the identity of the discloser.

It should also be noted that someone may be able to recognise the identity of the discloser due to the nature or circumstances of the disclosure.

Please note that if concerns are reported to the media, in most cases the discloser will lose their whistleblower legal rights.