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Should councillors be CRB checked?

In order to stand and be elected to a local council it is not necessary to be CRB checked. This is a process where those who will be working with children have to be cleared by the organisation concerned being checked with the Criminal Records Bureau. Many councillors will end up having to be checked for one reason of another - I had to be as I am on the Adoption Panel. New school governors in my borough have to be.

CRB checks have their critics. Parents can find it humiliating being told they can can't help with vountary activities because they haven't been CRB checked. The process is expensive and takes quite a while for results to can back. It is not fool proof - Ian Huntley slipped through the net.

Havering are responding to the Baby P scandal with a proposal that all elected councillors (not just those involved with children) undergo a CRB check.

Now, leaving aside the fact that this measure would not have prevented the Baby P tragedy, there would be potential objections on other grounds:

1. Political - what do we do about members who fail the check? Can the results be FOI'd? Or does the leader keep them in his bottom drawer to discourage 'troublemaking'? Should we in fact be CRB checking candidates, to avoid bad publicity after the election? Of course members have the choice whether they sign the forms, but will refusing a check somehow leave question marks hanging over them?

2. Resources - the public purse is going to pay for this naturally. Will the volume of councillors in the system clog up the process and delay more legitimate checks on teachers and carers? 

3. Police State -  Just what would be enough to fail you? Speeding offence? Smoking in a pub? Caught fox hunting?


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