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Government to strengthen rules disqualifying offenders from serving on councils

The government is to strengthen rules preventing people found guilty of serious crimes from serving on local councils, it has been announced.

Local Government Minister Rishi Sunak said the new rules would mean any person who is subject to an Anti-Social Behaviour Injunction, a Criminal Behaviour Order, a Sexual Risk Order or who is on the Sex Offenders’ Register, would no longer be able to stand for elected office in their community.

Current conditions make clear that anyone convicted of an offence carrying a prison sentence of more than three months is banned from serving as a local councillor.

The new measures will see the disqualification rules changed to include the alternatives to a prison sentence as a barrier to becoming a councillor.

They will require changes to primary legislation, in particular the Local Government Act 1972, the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009, and the Greater London Authority Act 2009.

The government will “look to identify a suitable legislative opportunity to bring the changes into law”.

Once the rules are implemented, councils across England will have the power to prevent individuals from standing as a councillor or mayor at the point they trigger the revised disqualification criteria. These proposals will not apply retrospectively, the government said.

Sunak said: “Elected members play a crucial role in town halls across the country, and are the foundations of local democracy. They are community champions, and have a leading role to play in building a better society for everyone.

“With such an important role comes great responsibility, and these changes will protect residents while upholding the values and high standards of behaviour we all expect.”

The move follows a consultation. The government’s response can be found here