The Garda Vetting process and a driver’s license.
Garda Vetting and Driving are more similar than you may think!
A standard family car can comfortably seat 4 people. The driver, front-seat passenger, and two back seat passengers. A legal requirement for all four people traveling in the car is that they all must secure themselves with seatbelts. Think of this as a safeguarding process. Wearing the seat belt minimising the risk of injury to all those in the car. Another legal requirement is that the driver must have a valid driver’s license. Another safeguarding step – you must be at least 17 years old to drive in Ireland.
If the driver is driving on a provisional license, then one other person traveling in the car must have a full driver’s license. Another safeguarding step. The driver must be insured to drive the car, the car must be taxed etc. etc. You get the point. Robust systems have safeguarding steps or components built into the process at various points to protect those in the system.
Best practice safeguarding systems are no different. They comprise of many components from Application Forms, Reference Checks, Formal / Informal Interviews, Training, Induction Programmes, Probationary Periods, the list goes on but only when legally required – Garda Vetting.
And that is the key point. Garda Vetting can only form part of a safeguarding system when it is a legal requirement to be part of it. If we assume that the driver of the car has a full license the only person in the car legally required to have a license is the driver. Why, because the license is a legal requirement to perform the task of driving a car. That task can be a component of many roles. For example, the task is required for the role of driving to do the shopping, for the role of driving the children to school, and for the role of driving for leisure.
Garda Vetting is role dependent.
Like a driver’s license, Garda Vetting is role-dependent. And the roles that legally require Garda Vetting are a lot narrower than you may think. When we talk about Garda Vetting what we are referencing is the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Acts 2012 to 2016. The clue to the group Garda Vetting is tasked with safeguarding is in the title of the Act, Children and Vulnerable adults.
Children are any persons under the age of eighteen while vulnerable adults are those who are suffering from a physical disability / impairment or a disorder of the mind brought on by mental illness or dementia what affects them to the point where they can’t guard themselves against harm or they require assistant with daily living.
So, if much of the role that you are or will be performing does not include necessary and regular access to children or vulnerable adults then Garda Vetting is not a legal requirement of the role. Think of yourself as the backseat passenger.
Many roles within our communities require the person performing the role to have a driver’s license. Taxi driving for example. Garda Vetting is no different, any person performing a role that involves Coaching, Mentoring, Counselling, Teaching, Training, Youth Leadership or Religious Leadership is legally required to be Garda Vetted.
By now we have established that if the role being performed is not one of the seven roles outlined above and does not involve access to children or vulnerable adults then Garda Vetting is not a legal requirement for the role.
Garda Vetting only applies to relevant work or activities.
For those of us still left in the car where the role does or will bring us into contact with children or vulnerable adults we need to evaluate that contact under another important part of the Act the concept of relevant work or activities which is defined as:
“Any work or activity which is carried out by a person, where a necessary and regular part of which consists mainly of the person having access to, or contact with, children or vulnerable persons.”
Three conditions must be met to satisfy an activity being classed as relevant work for Garda Vetting. It must be necessary, be regular and mainly consist of access / contact with children or vulnerable adults.
Remember Garda Vetting is role-specific and only one of many steps in a fit-for-purpose safeguarding system. Looking at the definition of relevant work if your safeguarding system can mitigate any one of the 3 conditions of necessary, regular, or mainly consist of then Garda Vetting will not be a legal requirement for the role and you will have proactively put a safeguarding process in place that will eliminate the need for it.
Scrutunize your roles!
The key takeaway here is to scrutinize any role in your organisation that involved contact with children or vulnerable adults to reduce the time the person performing the role is in contact with them (mitigate regular), the time of day the role is performed (mitigate mainly consist of access to) or the place the role is being performed (mitigate necessary). Many roles which cater for or assist children or vulnerable adults do not have to be performed in their presence.
Hopefully, this short piece will prompt you to see Garda Vetting for what it is. Just one component of a safeguarding process. A component that should only be included when it is legally required for the role and all other avenues to mitigate the necessary, regular and consist mainly of contact with children or vulnerable adults have been exhausted.
All staff at Tipperary Volunteer Centre are registered liaison persons for Garda Vetting with the Garda National Vetting Bureau. If you would like information on the Vetting Service offered by Tipperary Volunteer Centre please email [email protected]
You can also check out our “How to” Garda Vetting Video series HERE