Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Checks – Councillors

I wish to know what information you hold on the subject of DBS checks insofar as it relates to members (councillors) I am given to understand you may have requirements that every member undergoes such checks even though they are not required by law.

I would wish to know the basis for this if it is indeed the case and to have a copy of all reports etc generated and which led to such a decision. Please also include links to any audio/visual/written minutes where the issue was discussed.

As no such requirement exists in law, it begs the question what happens if someone elected to serve as a member chooses not to submit to the local requirement? What information do you hold for such consequences. 

Lastly, please advise as to what you do with the results of any such DBS search.

Prior to October 2018, Devon County Council carried out Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks in line with the legislation and after taking advice from the County Solicitor, where necessary as to when a DBS check was deemed necessary for Members of the Council. We also recorded that some Councillors may have had a DBS check because of another role they may hold, such as being a school governor.

In July 2018, the Council’s Audit Committee asked that the issue and current policy be reconsidered.

The issue was therefore considered by the Procedures Committee on 10th September 2018 …. There is a report attached to the minutes.

The Committee asked that the Council adopt a policy of conducting a Basic DBS check for all Members of the Council, notwithstanding a Councillor may undertake certain roles which, in line with the legislation, required them to undergo an enhanced DBS check in relation to their contact with vulnerable adults or children or both or, is a member of a Committee which discharges a relevant function. Council ratified those minutes in October 2018. All levels of DBS check will reveal if a Councillor has been sentenced to prison for 3 months or more (including suspended sentences) during the last five years.

The Procedures Committee also asked the Council to make representations to Government regarding the current criteria.

The Standards Committee were updated on 12th November under item 45…..on the issue and they asked that we write to Government again regarding the portability of DBS checks, where appropriate.

The Procedures Committee also asked that Officers establish a Risk Assessment process…. This was taken back to Procedures in November 2018. See minute 49… which also has a report attached.

The DBS result is sent direct to that Member for their records.

The Procedures Committee is all party, so all political parties signed up to this and it was a Council decision. Group Leaders therefore encourage all their Members to undergo the check.

We publish a list of Councillors who have had their checks, what sort of check (enhanced / basic etc) and what date.