Elected members and candidates for Sandwell Council should be made to declare past crimes – a councillor has demanded.
Cllr Caroline White says local politicians should undergo criminal disclosure checks and any serious convictions should be made public.
The Cradley Heath and Old Hill ward member has said it is wrong local politicians don’t undergo the same vetting procedures as council employees or people working with vulnerable groups.
Cllr White, who is one of only two opposition councillors on the Labour controlled authority, has said she now wants to change the rules so all elected members and candidates undergo checks.
At present, only criminal convictions for offences under the Representation of the People Act or a prison sentence of three months or more in the past five years bar someone from standing at an election.
But Cllr White has said local politicians should be treated in the same way as applicants for council jobs or those who apply for taxi or pub licences.
“The public expect people of trust should go through those checks. Councillors are people of trust, why don’t they?
“When I first became a councillor I was surprised that we didn’t have to undergo criminal checks”, she said.
“When I volunteered to work at my child’s school I was required to undergo a check.”
“I don’t think people should have to declare minor offences but in cases like assault, I think people should be aware of who they are voting for and who are making decisions on their behalf.
“I think it is the public’s right to know. I think people should know if their councillors or would be councillors are trustworthy, it’s as simple as that.”
By law candidates only have to disclose any convictions that prevent them for standing for office, but she added: “They don’t check them and the candidates could be lying.”
Councillor Yvonne Davies, Leader of Sandwell Council, in response said: “The council absolutely meets all of the legal requirements placed upon us.
“However, we are to have a review of all our governance arrangements and will be adopting best practice recommendations in the future that will not only meet, but exceed expectations.
“Councillor White can be assured that the council takes these matters very seriously.
“Regarding previous convictions, the law is set out in the Local Government Act 1972. If a person is convicted of an offence and receives a sentence of imprisonment of three months or more in the five years before or since the election, that individual is unable to stand for election. A candidate has to declare that they are not disqualified from being elected when they fill in their nomination form.”
Cllr White has said will now put motion to a meeting of the full council calling for criminal checks to be made mandatory.