Councillor DBS checks

I am writing to request information about the procedure you have in place regarding DBS checks for our county councilors.

I am also asking which county councilors do and do not have an up to date DBS check and the results from these up to date DBS checks.

If our councilors do not hold a valid DBS check can I ask why as they work in the public domain with vulnerable adults and children as well as lone female colleagues and members of the public.

Devon County Council has always undertaken Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks in line with the legislation and currently continues to do so, taking advice from the County Solicitor, where necessary.

Councillors are not required to undertake DBS checks by virtue of being a Councillor alone but only where they are eligible to be checked in line with the legislation, if for example, they are involved with working wholly or mainly with vulnerable groups, or frequently visit specified settings where they have the opportunity for contact with vulnerable groups. Working with lone females and members of the public also does not in itself provide eligibility for a DBS check.

Some Councillors may have had a DBS check because of another role they may hold, such as being a school governor. We may hold the information but it will be held on the central database of all DBS checks, we do not hold a separate list of which councillors have a DBS check. Disclosing which Councillors do have a valid DBS check and which do not would be a breach of data protection and therefore we would not disclose this information as it would be exempt under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 Section 40(2) Personal data.

However, we are looking to agree a policy for all Councillors to undergo a Basic DBS check as this will not be contrary to the current legislative requirements. This was recommended by the Procedures Committee on 10th September 2018 and will be recommended to the Full Council. We are also looking to make representations to Government on the matter.