Almost half of Walsall councillors not had criminal record checks in last four years, report reveals

Almost half the councillors in Walsall have not carried out criminal record checks in the last four years, a report has revealed.

Walsall Town Hall
Walsall Town Hall

Figures show that 29 elected members in the borough have undertaken basic or enhanced checks registered with the authority’s monitoring officers Tony Cox, while a further two are waiting for the results of theirs.

But a paper going to Walsall Council’s standards committee next week states the remaining 29 councillors are yet to have a valid check carried out in the last four years.

It’s not a legal requirement for councillors to have criminal record checks, but in May 2016, the authority agreed to undergo them every four years to ‘maintain transparency and high standards of behaviour’.

They are also asked to make annual declarations to the monitoring officer on any changes to their criminal record.

Members of the committee are expected to discuss assistance that can be given to ensure councillors complete the checks when it meets on January 31.

In his report, Mr Cox said: “As part of a desire to maintain transparency and high standards of behaviour council agreed at its meeting on 25th May 2016 to ask all members to undergo criminal record checks at least every four years and to make an annual declaration to the Monitoring Officer in the intervening years on any changes to their criminal record.

“This decision was made following a recommendation of the Standards Committee which had investigated methods to improve accountability and protection of members as a result of concerns that arose out of multiple national abuse enquiries.

“Dependant on their Committee membership members are asked to either complete a basic disclosure or an enhanced DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check.

“It was agreed by council that members of a committee or panel or portfolio holders that manage issues relating to children should have further accountability and protection through the enhanced process.

“Members are only required to complete these applications every four years.

“As of 20th January 2023 there are 29 members who have a valid basic or enhanced criminal record check which has been registered by the Monitoring Officer.

“In the intervening years members are also asked to confirm, in the form of an annual declaration, if there have been any changes to their criminal record since their last check was conducted.

“As of 20th January 2023 there are nine members out of a possible 24 who have duly completed this form.

“This leaves 31 members who do not have a valid criminal record check because either they have not completed the process or more than four years have passed since the last time they did.

“All of these members were contacted on 29th December 2022 and informed. As mentioned above two of these members have completed the process and are awaiting their results.”

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