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Rules brought in to prevent convicted criminals serving in councils

New rules have been announced this week by local government minister Marcus Jones to stop people convicted of serious crimes from being able to serve on local councils.

DCLG said that the changes are being brought in to ensure “those who represent their communities are held to the highest possible standards”.

At the moment, anyone convicted of an offence carrying a prison sentence of more than three months is banned from being a councillor – but Jones explained that this does not prevent people convicted of serious crimes serving as councillors, and does not reflect modern sentencing practices.

Under the new measures, people given an Anti-Social Behaviour Injunction, a Criminal Behaviour Order or who are on the sex offender register would not be able to hold elected office in their communities.

“Councillors hold an important position of trust and authority in communities across England,” Jones stated. “We need to hold them to the highest possible standards. The current rules are letting residents and councils down by not preventing people who should never be considered for such roles from standing for election.

“The changes the government is proposing would help make sure anyone convicted of a serious crime, regardless of whether it comes with a custodial sentence, will not be able to serve as a councillor.”

Restrictions implemented in 1972 put up barriers to becoming a councillor, including being employed by the authority, being subject to a bankruptcy order or being convicted of an offence resulting in a prison sentence.

However, these were drawn up before the sex offender register and other non-custodial orders existed, which is why the new measures introduced by Jones have been brought in to bring legislation up to the modern day.

Rules would apply to councillors in parish, town, local, county and unitary councils, as well as combined authorities and the Greater London Authority.

It also means that rules commanding local government will be closer to standards for the House of Commons, where MPs can be suspended for anything that contravenes the parliamentary code of conduct.

Top Image: Anthony Devlin, PA Images

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