Sandwell Council agreed last night (28th March 2023) at full council that all members shall undergo basic DBS checks from May 2023. Each member is responsible for making the application and from May must do so within 3 months of being elected and thereafter every 12 months whilst they remain an Elected Member.
The measures had been considered by the Ethical Standards and Member Development Committee after careful consideration of the roles of councillors and the legislation relating to DBS checks. The recommendation for members to obtain basic DBS checks came about as most councillors do not meet the criteria for an enhanced DBS check under the current eligibility rules.
Some roles involve more regular and frequent contact with vulnerable adults and children. Whilst there is no statutory requirement for DBS checks in relation to these roles, they may meet the eligibility criteria for an enhanced DBS check and where they do, it is required that those members obtain an enhanced DBS check. These roles include members of Children’s Services and Education Scrutiny Board and Health and Adults Social Care Scrutiny Board amongst others.
Council was agreed on the principle that all councillors should be eligible for an enhanced DBS check, which would provide further reassurance to the public and a motion was passed that the Leader of the Council, with cross-party support, write to the Minister for Safeguarding, Sarah Dines MP to consider the role of a Local Councillor as automatic qualification for Enhanced Checks as part of the planned Government review.
It was also discovered by the Ethical Standards and Member Development Committee that a legal loophole exists whereby a person with a criminal history could change their name by deed poll and subsequently obtain a clean DBS check. It was agreed that the Leader of the Council would also ask the Minister for Safeguarding, Sarah Dines MP to close this loophole to provide confidence in the DBS system.