By working together we can stop activities that have an adverse affect on SDS services.

Please use this website to report any concerns about SDS services. Whether you are a member of the public, an SDS employee, a contractor, a supplier, from another government agency or someone else, your input can make a difference. Don't worry if you don't have all the facts, just tell us what you know. It is our role to review the information you provide and where possible, fill gaps in understanding.

If you are aware of activities that are detrimental to SDS services, please use the Concerns Form to report your concern.

However, if you wish to raise a complaint about a service you have received directly, please visit our complaints page for more information.

Concerns which should be reported include, but are not limited to, a person or persons committing or attempting to commit:

  • any dishonest or fraudulent act
  • forgery or alteration of documents or accounts
  • misappropriation of funds, supplies or other assets
  • impropriety in the handling or reporting of money or financial transactions
  • profiting from an official position
  • disclosure of official activities or information for advantage
  • accepting or seeking value from third parties by virtue of official position or duties
  • theft or misuse of property, facilities or services

External organisations' actions which should be reported include, but are not limited to: 

  • being offered a bribe or inducement by a supplier
  • receiving fraudulent (rather than incorrect) invoices from a supplier
  • reported allegations of corruption or deception by a supplier 

Improper Activities

Improper activities against SDS means that the money intended for developing skills, and funded by the taxpayer, ends up in the pockets of those who did not legitimately earn it. It means fewer resources are available to be spent on frontline skills services such as career management skills, work based learning activity and skills support for employers and individuals.

You can report any concerns you have about improper activities in SDS or our contracted services using this secure and confidential online system.

It is helpful if you have all the relevant information to hand. This may include, for example:

  • What sort of improper activity do you think is taking place?
  • How is SDS affected by this activity?
  • Who is doing it?
  • Where is it happening?
  • When is it happening?
  • How long has it been going on?
  • Are any other people or organisations involved?
  • Can you outline any specific incidents that demonstrate what is happening?
  • Any key dates?

The online system will help you by taking you through a series of questions designed to make sure you get the opportunity to tell us all you know. Please remember you don't need to know everything about the suspected improper activity to make a report. However, telling us everything you do know will help us deal with the matter effectively.

When using the online form you will be able to attach supporting documents to your report.

 

All information you provide will be handled professionally, sensitively and in accordance with the law.

SDS only investigates possible or alleged improper activities where SDS can be identified as the victim i.e. when a suspected improper activity may lead or have led to the loss of SDS funds or other negative impacts. If you think that the victim is not SDS it may help you to refer to the 'useful links' area to look at other options for reporting your concerns.

Our specialist staff will quickly decide if the matter you are reporting is something SDS can deal with or whether it needs to be passed on to another organisation. If it is a matter for SDS, we will carefully consider all information that you give us.

Good factual information that is specific and supported by evidence is more likely to result in an investigation. However, information based on observation, local knowledge and opinion can still be valuable in contributing to our knowledge and help us to protect SDS against improper activities. 

We will consider the strength and relevance of the available evidence to decide whether your information is suitable for investigation. If it is, it will be allocated to a trained investigator, either within the specialist team at SDS or with an external organisation that specialises in  investigations.

Investigations need to be planned and executed carefully and looking into complex matters may take considerable time. It is likely that work being undertaken will not be apparent to you.

It is not always possible to start an investigation for every item of information we receive. However, SDS has a zero tolerance towards fraud and maladministration. If there is not enough evidence or information for us to conduct an investigation we will always retain your information to help increase our knowledge of potential SDS fraud or maladministration. We constantly review our decision to investigate as new information becomes available.

If the matter you are reporting is not for SDS to deal with, we may pass the information on to another public agency or Police Scotland so that it can be followed up by the right people. Your personal details will not be disclosed to anyone without your permission unless we are obliged by law, or it is in the wider public interest to do so.

When you provide information to SDS, you will be given a reference number. You will be able to use this reference to add to your original report at any time

The sensitive nature of potential criminal investigation work means that we normally cannot keep you updated on the progress of any investigation, discuss specific individuals or inform you of the outcome of an investigation. This doesn't mean that your information was not important and useful.

However, SDS is entitled to share progress updates on the investigation within SDS, with the Scottish Government and Police Scotland as appropriate.

SDS recognises the importance of witnesses who report crime and when a formal investigation is established will strive to ensure that formal witnesses are updated as appropriate.

We appreciate your patience and understanding in this matter.

 Useful Links

The SDS concerns system is intended for concerns you may have about improper activities including fraud, corruption and maladministration concerning SDS and its services.

If you have concerns about improper activities affecting the skills bodies in England and Wales or Northern Ireland, in another sector or concerns about  another matter, the links listed below may be of help.

Click on the organisation to be directed to their website:

Confidentiality

When you contact SDS, you don't have to give us any information about yourself unless you want to. Telling us who you are may help us to investigate matters more quickly and effectively, but you can choose not to give us your name if you prefer.

All information you provide will be treated in complete confidence. Your personal details will not be disclosed to anyone including the investigating officer without your permission unless we are obliged by law, or it is in the wider public interest.

Reporting your concerns

There are three ways of reporting that determine how your contact details are handled. You can find out more about each by clicking on the headings below and you can also use this section to find out more about whistleblowing.

Your contact details are linked with your concern

If you have no concerns about your personal details being linked to the information you are providing (or if you are reporting something in an official capacity as part of your job) please provide your name and preferred contact details.

This means that your details will be held with the information and made available to the investigating officer. This will allow us to contact you easily if anything needs to be clarified.

Your contact details are not linked with your concern

If you are happy to provide your personal details to SDS but would like your personal details separated from the information you are providing, please indicate on the form or inform the person you are telling about your concerns.

Measures will be taken on receipt to ensure that the information that you have provided does not reveal your identity. Your personal details will not be disclosed to anyone including the investigating officer without your permission unless we are obliged by law, or it is in the wider public interest.

You anonymously report a concern

Please indicate on the form or when telling us about your concerns if you would prefer to remain completely anonymous in your dealings with SDS. We will not ask you for your name or any contact details. Please be sure to provide as much information and detail as possible regarding your concerns, as we will not be able to contact you again for further information.

SDS EMPLOYEES or CONTRACTORS - If you are reporting concerns in respect of an area of business for which you are responsible or in the course of your official SDS or contracting duties it is not usually appropriate to use this option. Please consider providing your contact details with your concern.

Whistleblowing

The Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (PIDA) provides a statutory framework for protecting workers from harm if they blow the whistle on their employer. Audit Scotland is a 'prescribed person' under this act.

This means that if a member of staff with SDS or with a contracted supplier tells Audit Scotland about any suspected wrong doing they believe may have occurred (including crimes and regulatory breaches) they will qualify for the same employment rights as if they had made a disclosure to their employer.

Providing information in this manner is known as 'whistleblowing' and disclosures meeting the legal standards are called 'protected disclosures'. If a 'protected disclosure' is made, the worker may have a right to redress through the employment tribunal should they suffer a detriment or be dismissed from work as a result of making that disclosure.

When a disclosure is made to Audit Scotland it is escalated beyond the employer, and Audit Scotland can act upon the information that has been disclosed to them.

Whistleblowing provides valuable information on criminal and regulatory breaches as well as general wrongdoing in the public sector which enables Audit Scotland to gain a greater understanding of issues impacting the public sector in Scotland and take appropriate action.

In its capacity as a 'prescribed person' Audit Scotland is not responsible for deciding whether the individual who has made the disclosure qualifies for protection. Ultimately this will be decided by the employment tribunal in contested cases. Audit Scotland is unable to become involved in a grievance between workers and employers, other than to confirm that a protected disclosure was made.

For more information about whistleblowing please go to www.gov.uk/whistleblowing