More insights into the Tory calls for DBS checks on all councillors, and the law

Yesterday, Radio Exe carried a much longer report into the Tory calls for DBS checks. Owl highlights three extracts of particular significance.

[Owl would also add that MPs do not routinely have to have a DBS check. Like councillors, they are debarred by a prison sentence, though in their case of more than one year.]

Joe Ives, local democracy reporter 

…Whatever the governing EDDC coalition decides, the Tory’s own policy [that their councillors, and presumably candidates, should undergo a basic DBS check] won’t be formally ratified by their group until their next AGM in May next year. But they say all Conservatives on the council will eventually undergo enhanced DBS checks regardless…

….“The law already requires people elected as councillors to sign a declaration regarding criminal convictions or conditional cautions. The DBS check is an added layer of protection that those elected are giving electors the complete picture and that the signed declaration is accurate.”

Under the law, people cannnot become a councillor if they have been given a prison sentence of three months or more in the last five years. The five-year rule applies even if the conviction is ‘spent’ (meaning it doesn’t have to be revealed) under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974……

….Employment lawyer Terry Falcao, a partner at south west legal firm Stephens Scown, says councils that “enforce DBS checks may be acting unlawfully. The point of DBS checks in most cases is to protect children and vulnerable people, and requirements for such checks would usually be because the individual would have unsupervised access to such people. 

“If a councillor did not routinely have such access it is difficult to see how such an obligation can be justified other than to restrict the pool of whom might consider a political career or involvement in politics or alternatively for some political spin.”…

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