Mansfield District Council are getting basic Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks carried out on their elected members four years after the authority first said it required them to do so. The Labour-led council adopted a protocol backend 2019.
Mansfield District Council members undergo a basic DBS check as part of the vetting process—this type of check yields a certificate with information on convictions or cautions considered unspent. According to the legislation, certain convictions or cautions become ‘spent’ after a specific amount of time has passed and, therefore, will not show up on a criminal record check.
The Homeland Party favours the proposal to conduct a DBS check on councillors. However, we do not support the Conservative councillors’ demand for all elected members to undergo an enhanced DBS check. The enhanced DBS check is more extensive than the basic check and reveals non-conviction information. The enhanced check is unnecessary and may lead to undue scrutiny of personal information irrelevant to the councillor’s role. They also included demands for the results to be publicly available on the council’s website and for the costs of the checks to be deducted from the member’s allowance.
It is not necessary for local councils to impose stricter measures beyond the basic DBS check and should balance such demands with discretion to maintain a certain level of professionalism. However, if the conservatives achieve what they are asking for, this could lead to a descent into the same mudslinging politics commonly seen on the national stage. One prime example is the introduction of non-crime Hate incidents (NCHI). NCHIs are incidents that are recorded by the police to gather information about potential ‘hate incidents’ that could escalate into more severe harm or indicate heightened community tensions.
This information will appear on an enhanced DBS check, so if the police come across a message on social media that they don’t like, even if it’s not a crime, you could find yourself deemed unsuitable for the position in question. This is an important issue that needs to be considered carefully to ensure that people are not unfairly discriminated against.
The Homeland Party believes that the excessive scrutiny imposed on individuals poses a significant threat to our democratic values, particularly the fundamental right to freedom of speech. We believe if an individual has not been convicted of a crime and sentenced to imprisonment, they should be considered fit for public office and given every opportunity to prove their worth. In the party’s view, such undue scrutiny undermines the principles of fairness and justice that underpin our society and should be avoided at all costs.