All of Swindon Borough Council’s elected members might be required to undergo an enhanced DBS check if a new proposed policy comes to fruition.

Members of the authority’s standards committee were asked to consider options for a policy on ensuring that councillors who are involved in working with children, young people and vulnerable adults do not have anything in their past which might debar them from that.

Council officers working with children and vulnerable people already have to go through the process.

The committee’s members were presented with options ranging from requiring all members, including non-elected members, to undergo an enhanced check; requiring members “most likely to be most regularly in direct contact with vulnerable individuals” to apply for a check; encouraging members but not requiring them to have a check; to keeping the status quo where no members are required to be checked at all.

Presenting the options, the council’s chief legal officer Lisa Hall said: “DBS checks would provide an additional layer of reassurance to residents and stakeholders that those involved in important decisions, particularly in the education and social care real, are suitable for the role.”

She added that the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove had written to councils asking them to look at having a policy on such checks.

It was clear that the members were keen that councillors would be checked to provide reassurance all round. Councillor Jason Mills said: “Any councillor, at any time can come into contact with a vulnerable person. When we’re going round our wards, we can often be invited in – and perhaps we ought not, but you can be meeting vulnerable people at any time.”

Another member Councillor Fay Howard said: ”I think people expect a councillor to be someone trustworthy and safe, so this just helps that.”

Another, Councillor Brian Ford was also in favour but saw some issues: “What happens if a councillor is elected and then says they won’t have a check? What do we do? Ostracise them? Or put them on some small committee where it doesn’t matter?”

Ms Hall said the council would not be able to force a councillor to undergo a check, even if a requirement was put into the councillor’s code of conduct. Members decided not to add a requirement into a new code after a parish representative Richard Hailstone said that might make it harder for parish councils to adopt it.

In the end, members voted unanimously to progress requiring all elected members to undergo checks. The proposal will be worked up and put to members at full council.