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BBC Enhances Reporting Processes

Bbc whistleblowing news - intelligence & risk solutions

The BBC will develop an overarching framework for its complaints procedures, review how its complaints teams are resourced, and ensure employees have clarity over how to raise a concern, the broadcaster said following an external review of its non-editorial complaints processes.

In a report setting out actions following Deloitte’s review of its internal and external complaints processes, the BBC said it would improve awareness and training of complaints routes, build resilience in the teams that handle complaints by ensuring they have the resources to meet their workload, and develop a common and consistent approach for communicating with complainants.

The review was launched after it emerged the BBC acted too slowly when it received allegations about presenter Huw Edwards last year. It was claimed that Edwards paid for sexually explicit photographs of a younger person.

BBC complaints process

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BBC employees largely understand how to raise a complaint and are confident it will be dealt with, but the review found some employees had lower levels of confidence in how robustly the complaint will be handled if it is a grievance about another member of staff, “particularly where there is an actual or perceived power
discrepancy between the complainant and the subject of the complaint“.

There is no framework of overarching processes and procedures for complaints routes, nor is there a consolidated complaints process overseen by specific leadership or technology that provides senior management insight.

The BBC has a large network of routes through which complaints can be made, the report says. Complaints are dealt with by seven triage and investigation teams, each of which has a specific remit and is staffed by specialists. However, there are different case management systems with cases often logged manually.

Deloitte has recommended a consolidated system through which complaints are reported and recorded.

The BBC has agreed to develop an escalation mechanism for serious non-editorial complaints, which will be overseen under a specialist case management framework. BBC chief people officer Uzair Qadeer will act as executive sponsor for the framework.

It will also develop an improved process to select hearing managers and to pilot new ways to help resolve staff concerns before they become formal grievances.

The BBC also plans to make better use of technology to manage complaints to ensure there is a complete picture of all cases across the teams dealing with them.

Leigh Tavaziva, BBC group chief operating officer said: “Although our existing processes and systems are, on the whole, working effectively, this review shows that we need to join them up better to ensure no matter how a non-editorial complaint comes into the BBC it is escalated swiftly, when needed, and dealt with by the right people.

“Where the review identifies process improvements we accept those in full, and we are delivering on an action plan with a number of enhancements already in place.

“The report identifies specific process shortcomings in the presenter case. The initial complaint in this case was not escalated quickly enough to senior management and we have apologised to the complainant for this.”

Anonymous

The one term missed out of the BBC commentary on this is anonymity. This is the single most effective way to encourage reporting. Counter-intuitively, second-hand reports of wrongdoing are proven to be more accurate than first-hand. This is because the perceived personal gain from a second-hand report is less than a nefarious first-hand report. The result? Provide an anonymous way for your staff to report and you’re more likely to get more volume of reports and those reports will be more accurate than directly from somene with an axe to grind.

Human Competence

The report also focuses too narrowly on software solutions. You can provide all the software in the world, the decision to escalate a report is a human one. It’s not the software that chooses to escalate to senior leaders, it is the human dealing with the case. This is mostly impacted by culture – do the top of the organisation really want bothering? Do they really want things passing to them so they have to deal with them? It is this open culture that defines the success of a whistleblowing and reporting process – not the whizz-bang software storing the data.

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