Conservative peer, Lord Udny-Lister, has told parliament that a legal loophole allows registered sex offenders to serve as councillors.
The former council leader introduced the Local Government Disqualification Bill to the House of Lords, where he described the situation at present as casting “an unsavoury shadow of doubt over the security of the vulnerable,” PA reported.
The law bars those with a custodial sentence of three months or more from holding public office. But people put on the sex offenders register rather than receiving a jail term are eligible to stand for election.
“When we consider the role of local councillors in the community, we must think of the position of trust they hold and the work that they do, often with the most vulnerable members of our society,” said Lord Udny-Lister.
The bill has already passed through the House of Commons and is supported across the government. It has passed an unopposed second reading, and will later be scrutinised word by word.
Communities minister Lord Greenhalgh echoed the necessity of the Bill and the importance of addressing such gaps in the law. “It’s quite intolerable that people deemed by the courts to pose a risk to children and to vulnerable adults are not barred from serving as members of local authorities,” he said.
“The Bill rights the wrongs by updating the law to ensure that only fit and proper persons can stand to serve as locally elected officials.”