EDDC Conservative Group, DBS checks on Councillors Proposal Defeated

    At a meeting of the East Devon District Council Audit and Governance Committee on the 18th of November, a paper asking members of the Committee if they wanted to make any recommendations to the Council was presented and debated. A proposal by Conservative Councillor Phil Twiss requiring all Councillors to undergo a DBS check was defeated by three votes to two, with the Chair of the Committee Cllr Sam Hawkins choosing not to vote on the motion and abstaining. 

    At a meeting of the East Devon District Council Audit and Governance Committee on the 18th of November, a paper asking members of the Committee if they wanted to make any recommendations to the Council was presented and debated. A proposal by Conservative Councillor Phil Twiss requiring all Councillors to undergo a DBS check was defeated by three votes to two, with the Chair of the Committee Cllr Sam Hawkins choosing not to vote on the motion and abstaining. 

    In any event all Conservative members of EDDC have had at least the basic Disclosure and Barring Service check and Conservative candidates will be required to so as a matter of course before they are allowed to stand in future elections. Whilst a DBS check is only a snapshot at the time it’s made, having to have a one would deter those who are not fit and proper people, standing for election as offences committed after the check  would then show up any convictions and police cautions. 

    There is a widely held belief and assumption by many members of the public that Councillors have to undergo DBS checks, as is the case with many other community roles. This has been highlighted since the start of the COVID pandemic, which has brought many Councillors into situations where a check would normally be mandatory, but which isn’t currently the case. Undertaking a legal check on the basis of “Nothing to hide, nothing to Fear” should be a priority for Councillors. There is currently a Private Members Bill working its way through Parliament to make DBS checks a legal requirement as well as cross party support for the introduction of them across England.

    Councillor Twiss, whose proposal including lobbying Government to make DBS checks compulsory for Councillors to give members of the public confidence in their elected members, said after the meeting;

    “I am disappointed that my proposal, seconded by Cllr Dean Barrow was lost by three votes to two, with Cllrs Steve Gazzard, Nick Hookway and Paul Hayward, all of the ruling East Devon Alliance, voting not to refer the proposal to Council, with Chair Cllr Sam Hawkins abstaining at the vote. Clearly public opinion says we should as a Council take a lead on this matter, whether the law currently requires it or not. Sometimes you just need to do the right thing and not wait to be told to do it.

    The recent conviction of a former EDDC Councillor on serious sexual assault charges, (as well as former Councillors in other local authorities) makes the decision not to support the proposals both surprising and disappointing, given a DBS check would have alerted EDDC and others to his previous crimes, possibly preventing more that are not known about.

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    Christmas Advent Calendar 2021

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    • Exmouth

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    • Exeter

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    • Dawlish

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    What's On

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