If you think a company or individual is involved in wrongdoing within the area of phone-paid or premium rate services, and you want to report it confidentially, you can do so by contacting the relevant whistleblowing team.
Depending upon your circumstances and the nature of your concern, you can report your concern either to us or to Ofcom. To decide which is the appropriate route for you, please read on.
If you are not a worker, or you are not a current worker in the area of the provision of electronic communications networks and services, or you wish to report a concern about wrongdoing other than one related to your current organisation, please do so using any of the ways listed in the Reporting your concern to us section below. Any information you provide will be treated confidentially. Please refer to the section Will my identity be protected? section below for further details.
If you are a current worker in the area of the provision of electronic communications networks and services with a concern, you should report your concern to Ofcom in the first instance, in order to protect your employment rights. Please refer to the section The “Prescribed Person” – electronic communications networks and services for details of how to make a disclosure to Ofcom.
Disclosures by workers about their organisation
The Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (PIDA) provides protection for workers if they are victimised, harmed or dismissed as a result of reporting their concerns (sometimes referred to as “blowing the whistle”) about suspected wrongdoing within their organisation.
If you are a worker wishing to make a disclosure, you should first consider reporting your concern to your employer (or to the person whom you believe is responsible for the relevant conduct). If you do not wish to report your concern to your employer, or if you are not satisfied with their response, you may wish to make a disclosure to the “prescribed person” (see further below).
What types of disclosure can I make?
In order to be protected under PIDA, the disclosure you make must be a “qualifying disclosure”. A qualifying disclosure is one where a worker reasonably believes that it is in the public interest to disclose information which tends to show that one or more of the following has been, is or is likely to be, committed:
• a criminal offence;
• a breach of legal obligations;
• a miscarriage of justice;
• danger to the health and safety of any individual;
• damage to the environment; or
• the deliberate concealment of any of the matters above.
The “Prescribed Person” – electronic communications networks and services
The Office of Communications (Ofcom) is the “prescribed person” in respect of disclosures made by current workers in the area of the provision of electronic communications networks and services. Individuals who work in this area and wish to make a disclosure about wrongdoing in their organisation to Ofcom under PIDA should follow Ofcom’s procedure which can be found here.
You can contact the Designated Officer at Ofcom as follows:
Telephone: 020 7981 3601
Writing to: Steve Gettings, Secretary to the Corporation, Ofcom, Riverside House, 2a Southwark Bridge Road, London, SE1 9HA
PIDA does not require Ofcom to investigate every disclosure received. The decision whether or not to investigate is based upon various criteria designed to ensure the most effective use of the resources at Ofcom's disposal in safeguarding the public interest. In addition, the Act does not require Ofcom to consider or judge whether a disclosure qualifies for the protection of the Act. Ofcom's role is to consider the matters disclosed to it. Only an employment tribunal can decide after the event whether or not a disclosure was protected under PIDA. Ofcom does not have power to intervene in employment relations and it cannot provide legal advice.
In addition to making a disclosure to Ofcom you may also wish to raise your concerns with us. Please be aware, however, that your disclosure is unlikely to be protected under PIDA if it has only been made to us and not to Ofcom first. We therefore recommend that, if you are a current worker in the area of the provision of electronic communications networks and services with a concern, you report your concern to Ofcom in the first instance, in order to protect your employment rights.
Reporting your concern to us
If you are not a worker, or you are not a current worker in the area of the provision of electronic communications networks and services, or you wish to report a concern about wrongdoing other than one related to your current organisation, please do so by contacting us by:
Telephone: 020 7940 7476
Writing to: Whistleblowing, Phone-paid Services Authority, 40 Bank Street, London. E14 5NR.
Will my identity be protected?
It is not essential for you to give us your identity or contact details, and you can always choose to be anonymous when reporting your concerns to us. However, it would be extremely useful for us to confidentially hold your contact details, particularly if we need to clarify things or ask you for further information. We will not contact you for further information if you specifically ask us not to.
If you are a worker and you choose to report your concerns to us anonymously, it may be more difficult for you to later prove to an Employment Tribunal that you have been victimised as a result of making your disclosure. This is because we will not necessarily be able to confirm to the Employment Tribunal that it was you who made the disclosure.
If you ask us to protect your identity, we will take all reasonable steps to maintain confidentiality. However, there may be limited, exceptional circumstances in which disclosure of your identity will be necessary, such as where we are ordered to do so by a court.
If you confirm that you are happy for us to reveal your identity and/or any information you provide to us to a relevant company or third party, we will only do so in furtherance of an investigation under our Code of Practice and where we believe it will provide strong evidential support for any enforcement action we may propose to take.
What information is useful?
The more detail you can give us, the easier it will be for us to respond and take appropriate action.
It would be helpful if you could provide:
• the names of any individuals and/or companies involved in the alleged misconduct
• the type of alleged wrongdoing and means by which it is carried out.
• the dates of the alleged activity or wrongdoing.
• details of any other action you have taken in respect of the alleged activity or wrongdoing.
What happens next?
After you report your concern to us we will start making some initial inquires and if you have provided us with your contact details we may contact you to clarify information. We will not encourage you to obtain any further information or new information. If appropriate, we will consider referring your concern internally for investigation and may also, with your consent, refer your concern to other external agencies.
Whistleblowing information may help us to:
• issue warning notices to service providers in respect of harm caused to consumers and non-compliance with the PSA Code of Practice. This may lead to sanctions being agreed or imposed against such providers.
• engage where appropriate in informal intervention which provides a swift and simple way for service providers to bring their activities and/or behaviour into compliance with the PSA Code of Practice on a voluntary basis.
We cannot intervene in employment relations, and we cannot provide legal advice. If you are unsure of your legal rights we would strongly recommend that you obtain independent legal advice. In addition, the independent charity Public Concern at Work gives free, legal and confidential advice to those wishing to make a disclosure about wrongdoing or malpractice in the workplace.