Lincoln City Council staff blunders revealed

Drug offences, sexual harassment, bullying, and fraud have blighted Lincoln City Council, a freedom of information (FOI) request reveals. Since 2006,  the council recorded ten dismissals of its staff as a result of disciplinary investigations. The request came from a “Ms D Smith” through an FOI website.

The City of Lincoln Council offices in Beaumont Fee. Photo: Jack Dobson for The Linc

In 07/08, one case of sexual harassment of female colleagues was upheld — yet only resulted in a first written warning. Another case of the same nature that year resulted in dismissal. Also, a member of council staff faced allegations of indecent assault, but this was not upheld and the case was not referred to the police.

One worker faced the charge of “[using] threatening behaviour towards colleagues” and “deliberately falsifying hours on [a] time sheet”, but received a final written warning rather than the sack. This year has seen a staff dismissal for benefit fraud.

There have been 50 disciplinary investigations since 2006. Of these, seven were referred to the police. Referral offences include “affray/assaulting a police officer” and “driving whilst using [a] mobile phone”.

The FOI also revealed that several cases of falsifying information on time sheets resulted in written warnings, meaning taxpayers’ money was wasted on hours that haven’t been worked.

Other investigations include performance and conduct at work, inappropriate behaviour in toilets, and lewd behaviour. One staff member received a written warning for “inappropriate behaviour at St Peter at Arches public conveniences”, but the council refused to give details on the nature of the behaviour, claiming it would breach data protection to do so.

Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “It’s outrageous that staff who have cheated taxpayers out of money by falsifying time sheets are still in the employment of the [Lincoln] City Council. These disciplinary records reflect a culture of trying to milk as much out of the system as possible.

“If Lincoln City Council can’t get tough on this, then taxpayers are not getting value for money from the staff whose wages they pay. We’re constantly being told that the reason that council workers are so well paid is because they are highly skilled workers, whereas this is evidence that there are many staff who lack honesty and integrity.”

Sally Zubic, Lincoln City Council’s workforce development manager, said: “The City of Lincoln Council’s disciplinary policy is in line with the ACAS Code of Practice. ACAS has also delivered training to investigating officers, senior managers, and members to ensure that we are compliant with employment law and undertake best practice.

“As part of complying with the ACAS Code of Practice, all allegations must be investigated. If on completion of an investigation the presiding officer believes there is a case to answer a hearing would be convened. The hearing would take into account the allegations and the presiding officer can then put in place a disciplinary sanction, or dismiss the case if they deem there be none to answer.

“Importantly, any investigation we undertake does not assume guilt before it, or any related hearing is completed.  The instigation of a disciplinary sanction and the determination of its appropriateness can only be determined through a full and fair investigation and hearing, where all the facts are available for scrutiny,” Zubic added.

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