The Garda Central Vetting Unit provides employment vetting for approximately 20,000 organisations in Ireland, registered with the Unit, which employ personnel to work in a full-time, part time, voluntary or student capacity with children and / or vulnerable adults. The Unit processed approximately 328,000 vetting applications on behalf of these organisations in 2012.
The current average processing time for applications is approximately 12 weeks from date of receipt. However, seasonal fluctuations and the necessity to seek additional information on particular applications can result in this processing time being exceeded on occasion.
In order to observe equity and fairness in respect of all applicants for Garda Vetting, standard processing procedures are such that applications are processed in chronological order, from the date of receipt at the Central Vetting Unit. All organisations registered for Garda Vetting are aware of the processing time-frames for the receipt of Garda vetting and have been advised to factor this into their recruitment and selection process.
I should emphasise that the certificate is a disclosure to the requesting, registered organisation of the position at the time when it is issued. Each time a new vetting application is received, new and full vetting checks are conducted. This is to ensure that the most recent data available is taken into account. The non-transferability and contemporaneous nature of the certificate protects against the risk of fraud or forgery and is a guarantee of the integrity of the vetting system. The primary purpose of the vetting process is the protection of children and vulnerable adults. This must remain so.
It is my objective that processing times should be kept to a minimum, while maintaining the overall integrity of the vetting system. In that regard, following recent discussions with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, sanction was recently granted for an additional 25 staff to be re-deployed from the Department of Agriculture to the Garda Central Vetting Unit in the near future.
The Deputy may wish to note that Garda Central Vetting Unit will become the National Vetting Bureau under the provisions of the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012 and will have a substantially expanded role under that legislation. I am currently engaged with An Garda Síochána and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in addressing the staffing issues relevant to the coming into force of the 2012 Act.