A committee is set to examine whether criminal record checks should be carried out on councillors at Northampton Borough Council.
There is currently no requirement for elected members to be subject to the checks from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), which allows employers to scrutinise any criminal records of employees or potential workers.
A question from Labour councillor Zoe Smith was submitted during a full council meeting at The Guildhall on July 22, and read: “Given the authority, both real and perceived, bestowed upon councillors, should we not introduce a practice of DBS checks for all elected councillors?”
Councillor Anna King, cabinet member for community engagement and community safety, responded: “There is no legal requirement for a councillor at Northampton Borough Council to have a standard or enhanced DBS as they do not conduct regulated activity as required by legislation.”
A number of professions, including teachers, social workers, childminders, foster carers and medical professionals, all require DBS checks. A standard check shows spent and unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands and final warnings from police, while an enhanced check shows the same as a standard check plus any information held by local police that is considered relevant to the role.
But it seems the council may look at the idea in greater detail, with Councillor King admitting that the issue was ‘complex’.
She added: “Having raised the matter with the monitoring officer [Francis Fernandes], he has agreed to take a paper to Standards Committee for the matter to be considered in more depth. I shall report to council on the results of the deliberations of the Standards Committee.”
The Standards Committee’s next scheduled meeting is on Monday September 30.