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Remove the vetting requirement for volunteers

Comment 1st July 2010

 

The requirement for State vetting of volunteers providing services in the community  should be lifted.

The Government should not involve itself in voluntary services. Doing so deters volunteers and is a first and unacceptable step towards bringing such services under state control, something which socialists and bureaucrats love, but efficiency and community spirit hate. If organisations using volunteers to provide valuable service in the community want to ensure they are not taking on those who might be a risk, what is wrong with the centuries old system of asking for references,  taking them up and being responsible for the way things are run?  The state vetting system is overbearing, intrusive, bureaucratic, and starts from the premise that we are all guilty until proved innocent.  This has already had serious spin-offs. How many of us would comfort a lost child, and risk being thought a pervert or even accused of being one?  How do we allow our country to come to this?  The Labour Government believed that they were responsible for everything. This Goverment believes in passing responsibility back to the people. Great. Here is a limited but significant step in the right direction. 

Why does this matter?

 

 

For two reasons:-

1. The volunteer sector has been a key part of our national life for many years. It is also a key ingredient in maintaining communities, especially important now that technology drives many into electronic rather than personal communication. Many volunteers are retired people, who grew up in an era of individual responsibility. They are used to being responsible and to being respected. Vetting them is seen as an insult to their integrity. If the Government wants to help restore the concept of community, removing this cancer will be an important step and a vital signal that they mean business.

2. State vetting of volunteers is an infringement of civil liberties. It is also a catchall sledgehammer to crack a nut. Many voluntary organisations have never had the sort of problems which vetting, with its secrecy and suspicions, is supposed to address. Making all volunteers feel a sense of guilt, such as when one is called to the headmaster or a policemen apears at the door, is a deterrent to volunteering.  Many will quit the sector rather than accept it. I know. I drive for a privately run hospital car service. Several of us will resign when vetting becomes obligatory, which is promised for next year. In my case I have nothing to hide and have been vetted as a Civil Servant. But as a volunteer I will not play along with this authoritarian big-brotherism.

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