A Ukip councillor in the Hampshire town of Havant has called for the introduction of compulsory checks on council members under the Disclosure and Barring Service legislation.
Cllr John Perry said that the move was necessary to protect the integrity of the authority, following the emergence of a leaked document which referred to alleged instances of inappropriate behaviour naming some MPs.
Whilst accepting that no evidence of such behaviour has been produced, Cllr Perry suggested that checks should be introduced.
Information on such checks is provided by the government via its website GOV.UK.
The renewed call for such checks in Havant follows an initial demand from Cllr David Keast, a Conservative member of the council, earlier this year. Any change in council procedure was blocked by the authority’s leader, Tony Briggs, who said that this was not a legal requirement, given the work councillors carry out.
Cllr Perry reacted to the leader’s comments by pointing out that school visits by councillors, and dealings with the elderly and vulnerable could mean that checks were desirable. He went on to stress the importance of such checks, while saying he was confident all councillors would have no difficulty in passing such scrutiny.
The council leader responded by saying that the introduction of such checks was a matter for the full council. This would involve any concerned member tabling a motion for a full debate and vote.
Cllr Perry is expected to table such a motion to the council at the earliest opportunity and has suggested other councillors should follow his lead and offer to use part of their council allowance to pay for a check. Websites such as http://www.carecheck.co.uk/ provide a service for DBS checks.
Should the council adopt the practice of DBS checks, it would be following the same path as other authorities in the county. Hampshire County Council expects councillors to have such checks, whilst back in 2009, Portsmouth City Council made what was then known as a CRB check compulsory for members of the council.
A DBS check is designed to ensure employers do not hire unsuitable people for positions which will put them in contact with vulnerable people and children. Any potential criminal record of concern will be revealed by such a check.