Check Against Delivery

Seanad Éireann

Commencement Matter

20th October 2016

 


The need for the Minister for Justice and Equality to amend the vetting system so that those individuals Garda vetted for one activity can be deemed automatically vetted for another activity or at least fast tracked.

Neale Richmond

 

On behalf of the Tanaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality I thank the Senator for raising this issue in the House.

 

The primary purpose of the Garda National Vetting Bureau is to seek to ensure the safety of children and vulnerable adults.  While every effort is made to make the system as efficient as possible is always desirable, it cannot be at the expense of this core function.

 

Full vetting checks are conducted by the Garda vetting unit for each new vetting application received to ensure that the most recent data available is taken into account. This is because once there has been any significant lapse of time between one employment and another, the original Garda Vetting Disclosure must be reviewed to take account of any changes in information, such as more recent criminal convictions.

 

Furthermore, under the Data Protection Acts, any sensitive personal data which employers use in regard to their employees must be current, accurate and up-to-date.

 

Importantly, the general non-transferability and contemporaneous nature of the current process also protects against the risk of fraud or forgery.

 

There are certain limited circumstances where organisations can share a single vetting disclosure where this is agreed to by the vetting applicant.  For example, persons involved in voluntary work with more than one organisation at the same time. Similar arrangements can arise in the health and education sectors.

 

The Tanaiste is, however, pleased to inform the Senator that 80% of vetting applications are now being processed by the National Vetting Bureau in 5 working days by a system that reflects best practice internationally.

 

In circumstances where there is such a sustained reduction in processing times the issue of vetting “transferability” becomes something of a moot point.

 

This vast improvement on the turnaround times of 14 weeks in 2013 comes about primarily as a result of significant investment by the Government in the National Vetting Bureau and, in particular, following the launch in April this year of the Bureau’s new e-vetting system. All organisations are encouraged to avail of this service and indeed 85 percent of organisations registered for vetting are already using it.

 

Some cases will of their nature take longer than the average to complete. Vetting applications that continue to be submitted in the old paper format are taking four weeks from the receipt of the application and there will always be certain cases whose nature demand more extensive inquiry

 

Delays can also occur in the application process which are outside of the control of the Bureau. In that regard, one very welcome feature of the e-vetting system is that it allows an applicant to track the progress of their application.

 

The Garda Authorities will continue to work with all organisations to bring them into the e-vetting procedure.