Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Questions (234)

Mattie McGrath

Question:

234. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will consider reviewing and amending the Garda vetting process to change to a situation in which those who are Garda vetted will receive a Garda vetting certificate which can be produced for each organisation rather than requiring an applicant to seek Garda vetting a number of times in which they are involved with a number of organisations; the reason Garda vetting cannot be used for more than one organisation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51774/18]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Deputy will appreciate that the primary purpose of the employment vetting carried out by the Garda National Vetting Bureau is to seek to ensure the safety of children and vulnerable adults and it is carried out by An Garda Síochána primarily in accordance with the provisions of the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012-2016 and is, as I am sure you will agree, a very important task which must be done thoroughly and correctly.

The current system relating to Garda Vetting is delivered in a standard format to each organisation seeking Garda Vetting and this methodology is in line with good practice internationally. Vetting checks are conducted by the Vetting Bureau for each new 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 vetting disclosure must be reviewed to take account of any changes in information, such as more recent criminal convictions.

Furthermore, the Data Protection Acts require that 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 helps to protect against the risk of fraud or forgery in the process.

Each relevant organisation develops its own policy in relation to the assessment of disclosures received from the Garda National Vetting Bureau.  Policies can vary between different organisations and in that regard, what is acceptable to one organisation may not be acceptable to another. 

However, the Deputy will wish to know that the Act provides for the sharing of vetting disclosures in certain circumstances by registered organisations; a facility which is of assistance in the health and education sectors, for example, in reducing the need for multiple vetting applications.

Section 12(3)(A) of the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012 (as amended) provides that two or more relevant organisations can enter into a joint written agreement in relation to the employment, contracting, permitting or placement of a person to undertake relevant work or activities, thereby providing for only one of the organisations being required to conduct vetting in respect of that person.

In general, the vetting process is working well and I understand that there are no backlogs or delays in Garda Vetting at present. This efficiency has been achieved by the deployment of the e-vetting system which facilitates the on-line processing of applications for vetting from registered organisations. The e-Vetting system is available to all registered organisations and the Garda Authorities are ready to assist those organisations who are not yet using the e-Vetting system to do so.  

The current turnaround time for vetting applications submitted by organisations utilising the eVetting system is 5 working days for over 85% of applications received. Individual applicants can track the process of their application online using the eVetting Tracking System, details of which are contained in the email received by applicants when completing their application online.