Silence is not always golden

Press release - 2 July 2008

The tenth anniversary of the Public Interest Disclosure Act is marked today by the launch of new guidance for organizations on whistleblowing arrangements. PAS 1998:2008 Whistleblowing arrangements – Code of Practice is published by BSI British Standards and the independent authority, Public Concern at Work.

The PAS (Publicly Available Specification) explains why whistleblowing is now seen across private and public sectors as an essential element of risk management and how it can be used as a key tool in tackling fraud and crime. PAS 1998:2008 can be downloaded free of charge from or

While the Public Interest Disclosure Act is recognized as an international benchmark, recent research suggests that only 40% of UK businesses provide a comfortable environment for staff wishing to report misconduct*. PAS 1998:2008 seeks to change this as it guides organizations on how to run, promote and review effective whistleblowing arrangements.

PAS 1998:2008 recommends that key elements in making whistleblowing work are:

  • Fail-safe channels and confidential advice
  • Building employee trust 
  • Providing for external disclosures 
  • The role of leadership 
  • No cover ups

Other issues addressed in PAS 1998:2008 include:

  • The problems of anonymity
  • Public concerns and private complaints
  • The whistleblower with an ulterior motive
  • Guidance for small organizations
  • Bullying and harassment.

Guy Dehn, Director of Public Concern at Work, said: “Ten years ago today the UK passed the most far-reaching whistleblowing legislation in the world to protect employees who blow the whistle on organizations doing wrong. The Code published today is equally important as it sets out how organizations can get this right in the first place.”

Mike Low, Director of BSI British Standards, said, “PAS 1998:2008 meets a real need for guidance in this area. Every organization faces the risk of something going wrong. Rather than shying away from whistleblowing, good organizations know that allowing employees to raise issues in a supportive environment brings real benefits.”

Organizations that follow PAS 1998:2008 stand to benefit in a number of ways, including:

  • deterring wrongdoing
  • demonstrating to stakeholders and regulators that they are accountable and well-managed
  • reducing the risk of anonymous and malicious leaks
  • minimizing costs and compensation from accidents, investigations and litigation.

PAS 1998:2008 was developed by a Steering Group which included the Audit Commission, the Institute of Directors and Trades Union Congress. The CBI, Information Commissioner and the National Consumer Council were among experts bodies on the review panel.

Steve Bundred, Chief Executive of the Audit Commission, said:
"Our experience has shown repeatedly that good whistle blowing arrangements are a vital component of good internal control arrangements within well run organisations. Whatever the issue or concern may be, providing a framework through which staff can confidently raise concerns is fundamental to delivering good governance in public services".

* Information taken from Grant Thornton International Business Report

About Public Concern at Work
Public Concern at Work (PCaW) is the whistleblowing charity. It runs a free helpline for individuals, does consultancy and training work for organisations, campaigns on public policy and has a public education and schools programme. The charity also promoted the Public Interest Disclosure Act. The charity is self-funding. For further information please visit