Calls to implement DBS checks at East Devon Council
- Credit: Archant
An leading Axminster district councillor has slammed the authority for a ‘lack of urgency’ in putting voluntary criminal activity checks (DBS) into action for its members.
Ian Hall previously won agreement that fellow members of EDDC would follow a process designed to uncover any unspent convictions or cautions.
Now the member of the former ruling Conservative group has challenged the new independent administration to implement the process without further delay, pointing out that nearly four months has already passed with no visible progress.
Cllr Hall successfully proposed in October that any councillors elected in future would be expected to arrange their own basic Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check, results of which would be voluntarily disclosed and published on EDDC website.
The checks are designed to look into an individual's background to pick up any cautions, reprimands, warnings and convictions deemed to be unspent according to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.
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At full council on October 24 last year, the Conservative group unanimously endorsed his proposal. In a recorded vote, the initiative was supported by all Conservative members, whilst a single member of the East Devon Alliance abstained.
The new procedure, proposed by Cllr Hall and seconded by Iain Chubb (Newbridges), was due to take effect immediately after the elections on May 2 this year. But at that time, the Conservatives lost control of EDDC and a new Independent-led administration took over.
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Cllr Hall said: "Last autumn, I was pleased that voters would in future have confidence that any councillor, who has undergone the check, has no unspent criminal convictions or cautions. This would ensure that each would be a fit and proper person to represent them, as well as playing a full part in the important business of running EDDC.
"I am determined to ensure through this DBS checks policy that there would be a much reduced risk of an 'inappropriate' individual slipping through the net. I am disappointed and concerned that the new administration is in no hurry to put this agreed policy into effect.
"I'm issuing a challenge to the ruling groupto 'give us some real transparency where it matters most - around the integrity of those who are running this district council and indeed all other councillors, of whatever party or political persuasion'."
A spokeswoman for EDDC said: "The council agreed a motion last October supporting councillors in obtaining their own basic Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check from May 2019 and they could voluntarily disclose the results to the council and we would publish them on our website. This is a personal matter for each councillor."