Garda vetting is only one part of a safe recruitment procedure and should not replace good practice such as face to face interviews, verbal and written reference checks, identity verification and a robust code of good practice, child protection policy and support and supervision process.
The Garda Central Vetting Unit (GCVU) provides the only official vetting service in the Republic of Ireland. Local Garda stations DO NOT provide vetting at a local level.
The Unit can be contacted at:-
Garda Central Vetting Unit/Garda Criminal Records Office
Racecourse Road, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.
Tel: Lo-Call 1890 488 488/+353 504 27300
Office Hours: Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm
The Child Protection Programme provides services in Garda Vetting through:
• The provision of access to Garda vetting through membership of the Youth Work Garda Vetting Consortium.
In order for an organisation to avail of Garda vetting for their staff and volunteers they must be registered with the Central Garda Vetting Unit in Thurles.
Large youth work organisations (with approx. 200+ vets in one year) may be able to register with the central vetting unit and avail of the vetting service directly through their own appointed authorised signatory.
Smaller youth work organisations, who are not registered with the vetting unit, may access Garda vetting through membership of the Youth Work Garda Vetting Consortium.
• Information and support is provided to youth work organisations in implementing Garda vetting procedures for their own staff and volunteers.
An organisation wishing to develop safe practice in the area of recruitment, selection and Garda vetting can avail of support, advice and training through the Child Protection Progamme.
Frequently Asked Questions on the Implications of the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012
For the Youth Work Sector
- What is the new vetting legislation?
The National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012 .This legislation is part of a suite of complementary legislative proposals to strengthen child protection. http://www.oireachtas.ie/documents/bills28/acts/2012/a4712.pdf
- When will it commence?
The legislation was enacted in December 2012 and will be fully commenced in 2014.
- Why has this legislation been introduced?
The purpose of this Act is to provide a legislative basis for the vetting of persons who seek positions of employment relating to children or vulnerable persons. Previously, persons applying for such positions were vetted on a non statutory basis. This Act makes vetting mandatory.
- Who is subject to vetting?
Those involved in ‘any work or activity which is carried out by a person , a necessary and regular part of which consists mainly of the person having access to, or contact with children in’ –
- Childcare Services
- Hospitals and health services
- Residential services or accommodation for children or vulnerable persons
- Treatment, therapy or counselling services for children or vulnerable persons
- Provision of leisure or physical activities to children or vulnerable persons (unless this in incidental to the provision of services to a mixed group including adults)
- Promotion of religious beliefs
See schedule I Part I (pages 29 - page 32) of legislation for detail.
- Who is exempt from vetting?
The Act does not apply to an individual who does work in the course of a private arrangement for their own benefit, or for a child or vulnerable person who is a member of the individual’s own family.
The Act does not apply to any work or activity undertaken in the course of a family relationship or to persons who assist occasionally and on a voluntary basis in certain activities or events be they school, sport or community related. This recognises the occasional but necessary involvement or assistance of parents or other persons. However, the Act will apply where such involvement includes coaching, mentoring, counselling, teaching or training of the children or vulnerable persons.
- How does my organisation decide who should be vetted?
This is a matter for each youth organisation to assess.
Useful Guidance: Is the person ‘providing physical or leisure activities and services to children’? If not, they do not require vetting. Ordinary members participating in youth club events do not require vetting.
All youth leaders, coaches, trainers, religious leaders who work with groups of children, whether alone or accompanied by another adult, must be vetted.
If substitute persons are required from time to time for this work then they should be appointed from a panel of persons who have been vetted.
- What if we need to appoint a volunteer at short notice for a one off event?
That person does not have to be vetted. They would be covered by the ‘occasional assistance’ exemption. Occasional means ‘now and then’ or for a once off event such as a sports day.
- Is it an offence to fail to vet a youth worker who is working directly with children?
Yes. A person may not be engaged to do relevant work or activities relating to children or vulnerable persons unless that person has been subject to the vetting procedures under the Act. Failure to comply with this duty is an offence under the Act. It will be a defence for a person to show that he or she did not know, nor could reasonably be expected to know, that the work for which a person was engaged constituted relevant work or activity.
- Where does the liability rest for non vetting?
If a person working with children or vulnerable persons is not vetted, any offence that is committed is committed by the organisation that the person works for. Each local board will have to ensure that the relevant persons working with children or vulnerable persons are vetted. Equally, national organisations will be required to vet persons working for them who are working with children or vulnerable adults. There is no requirement to vet persons in administration or other positions where they do not engage in "relevant work or activities relating to children/vulnerable adults”.
- Do I need to register my organisation?
Youth organisations (and sports clubs, religious organisations) that are already registered with the vetting unit (now called the vetting bureau) through their national bodies do not have to re–register. The Act allows national organisations and consortiums, such as the Youth Work Garda Vetting Consortium, to submit vetting applications on behalf of another organisation.
- What is the procedure for vetting applications?
Following the receipt of an application for vetting disclosure by a liaison person, the Bureau will undertake an examination of its own database and Garda Síochána records to establish whether any criminal records or any specified information relates to the applicant. The Bureau will release a vetting disclosure upon completion of all necessary enquiries and procedures as required. It may state that there is no criminal record or specified information relating to the applicant.
Where an employer receives a vetting disclosure containing details of criminal records or specified information it must provide a copy of the disclosure to the vetting subject. It may consider and take into account the information disclosed in assessing the suitability of the person to do relevant work or activities. This should be done in a safe and confidential manner.
- What is Soft/Specified information?
The Act provides for the exchange of specified or ‘soft’ information’ in the context of protecting children and vulnerable adults. This is information held by the Garda Síochána or an organisation specified in Schedule 2 of the Act where such information reasonably gives rise to a bona fide concern that a person may harm a child or vulnerable person. The disclosure of specified information is tightly controlled and the Act seeks to balance the rights of vetting subjects to the protection of their good name and the rights of children and vulnerable adults to be protected from persons who are likely to cause them harm.
- What is the process for disclosing specified information?
Where a member of the Bureau staff considers that there is ‘specified information’ in regard to the vetting subject it will be referred to the Chief Bureau Officer for assessment as to whether
the information should be disclosed. The Chief Bureau Officer will notify the vetting subject of the referral, provide a summary of the information, and inform him or her of their right to make a written
submission in relation to the information.
The Act provides statutory constraints. Firstly, a decision to disclose the specified information can be made only if the Chief Bureau Officer, on assessment, believes the information in question is of such a nature as to give rise to a bona fide concern that the vetting subject may harm, attempt to harm or put at risk of harm a child or vulnerable person.
Secondly, the Chief Bureau Officer must be satisfied that the disclosure is necessary, proportionate and reasonable in the circumstances in order to protect children or vulnerable persons. The vetting subject
must be informed of the intention to disclose the information and informed that he or she may appeal the decision.
- Who assesses the vetting subject’s suitability?
As with the current system, it is a matter for the relevant organisation, and not the Bureau, nor the Youth Work Garda Vetting Consortium, to consider and take into account the information disclosed in a vetting disclosure in assessing the suitability of the person for the position for which he or she has applied. The organisation may not disclose the information otherwise than in accordance with the Act. Non-compliance with this duty is an offence.
The Head of the Registered Organisation should appoint a Decision Maker or Decision Making Committee to assess the suitability of applicants for positions within the registered organisation vis-à-vis any Garda vetting disclosures that may be received in respect of them.
- How long should an organisation retain returned vetting information?
Under the Data Protection Acts a vetting disclosure would constitute “sensitive personal information”. Section 2 of the 1988 Act requires that such data shall be kept for “no longer than is necessary”. As most disclosures will be returned with no convictions, it is usually decided not to keep these records and to record the outcome of the vetting process. However, for returned disclosures with relevant convictions which may deem them unsuitable, the organisation is likely to decide to keep this information for a longer period of time. This is a matter for each youth organisation to assess what is the necessary period in respect of a particular record.
- What about re-vetting and retrospective vetting?
The Act provides for the re-vetting of employees. However, retrospective vetting of current employees who have not yet been vetted is being prioritised, so re-vetting will likely be introduced on a phased basis.
The Vetting Unit will now issue a Vetting ID number to participants. So, in the event of a 6 months lapse since they last filled out a form, they will only be asked for those 6months.
- What if the vetting applicant has lived outside of Ireland?
The Garda vetting application form requires applicants to supply all address that they have been resident at from birth. Where these include addresses outside of the island of Ireland, most organisations generally require addresses that the applicant has been resident at for six months or longer.
There is an intention to introduce the Criminal Records Information Systems Bill 2013 which will provide for exchange of criminal records with other countries. This implements an EU Framework Decision on exchange of criminal records information. That Bill will also provide for exchange of information with non-EU states.
- What about vetting for youth leaders under 18 years old?
It is best practice to ensure that junior leaders under 18 years of age are supported by an adult(s) and do not have overall supervision responsibility for a group of young people. The consent of a parent is required for vetting persons under 18 years of age. This is consistent with the existing vetting procedures.
- Is there a fee charged for vetting applicants?
There is currently no intention to charge fees to the community and voluntary sector for accessing the vetting service.
- Will the current vetting form be changed?
Yes, a revised form will be issued and on line forms are also being considered.
IMPORTANT: The above guidance is a general overview of the new legislation. Each organisation will need to examine how the legislation may affect their recruitment and selection processes. It is important to consider issues that are specific to your organisation.