Conservative Councillors Vote Against Compulsory DBS Checks on Isle of Wight
A motion calling for all elected councillors to undergo DBS checks has been voted down by 19 to 9 (with 4 abstentions). The motion had been out forward by Michael Lilley, who is the Green Party councillor for Ryde East.
What Is a DBS Check?
A DBS check is a legal requirement for people working and volunteering with children and/or vulnerable adults, but this requirement does not extend to elected councillors unless they are involved in fostering or adoption panels. It is undertaken by potential employers prior to the offer of certain types of work or voluntary positions.
Councillor Lilley, however, stated that it was his belief that all elected representatives should be subject to checks, explaining that we now live in a world that is less safe for our children and a councillor’s position of trust should require that they undergo checks. He went on to note that in the past local representatives had been convicted of child abuse, and this made it even more important that the public should know that their councillors have been checked by the Disclosure and Barring Service.
An ‘Illegal’ Motion
The Conservative leader, who led the successful opposition to the vote, stated that there was no legal requirement for the councillors to undertake a check, so to compel them with the threat of removal if they failed to comply was illegal. He noted that Cabinet members had undergone basic checks, and those Cabinet members working with children or vulnerable adults had undergone enhanced checks. He didn’t feel there was a need for this to extend to all elected councillors.
DBS checks are sought in more jobs than ever, but there is no legal requirement for anyone to agree to one unless the position specifically demands it. Companies such as carecheck provide a service for those needing DBS checks, whether they are the basic disclosures or the enhanced.
Whether or not there will be a shift in public perception as to the requirement for all elected public servants to undergo checks remains to be seen, but as Councillor Paul Fuller stated, “We shouldn’t have anything to hide and if we have, we shouldn’t be here”. It may be a case of the public assuming the worst unless there is evidence to the contrary.