Councillors elected to serve on Basildon Council could be forced to undergo a criminal record check under a new policy set to be discussed next week.

The draft policy will mean elected members have to get a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check within two months of taking office and consent to the record being checked by the council “at any time”.

The council’s deputy leader, Kerry Smith, has been calling for the policy to be implemented for several months, claiming it is not a witch-hunt but is in fact about protecting the public.

As chair of the Housing and Communities Committee, the independent will be leading a discussion on the policy at a meeting next week.

Mr Smith said: “I was very keen to get this on the agenda.

“We brought it up at the communities committee in February and officers appears to be playing slowball but it has to happen. We’ve got to get this done.

“It is a priority because for all the public and the tax payer knows, I could be a bank robber.

“The council needs to be aware if an elected councillor has a criminal past. Councillors also get invited to open days at schools and work with teenagers in the community.

“For all we know they could be a sex offender and if the council is aware of that, then the very least they could do is say you cannot go to those events.”

He explained if anything was to happen involving a councillor, the public will turn to the authority and ask why these checks had not been done.

It is his belief that if a councillor was found to have committed a serious offence in the past, they should resign.

The proposals also have the support of the Conservative group.

Tory councillor Kevin Blake said: “I do support this personally, I think any checks like this can only be a good thing.

“People who don’t want them probably have something to hide so I don’t see anything wrong with it.”

Currently, DBS checks are a requirement of Essex County Council but not for any district or borough council.