Garda Vetting

by admin on 27/03/2013

GardaíThrough the course of a conversation with educators on Twitter on Tuesday night, I was amazed to discover that if people belong to different organisations through which they come into contact with children or vulnerable adults, they must get separate Garda vetting for each individual one. One would have thought that once Garda vetting has been approved for any organisation, then that would be transferable to any other organisation with which you were involved.

The difficulty here may be that an individual cannot apply for Garda clearance in a personal capacity. They may only do so as part of an organisation that is registered with the Garda Central Vetting Unit (GCVU) for Garda vetting. There may well be good reasons for this system of operation. However, surely it leads to a duplication of services and a wastage of Garda time and resources.

The Teaching Council website says that it currently takes 4-6 weeks to complete the Garda vetting process. Only last month, The Journal website reported that twenty five extra civil servants had to be drafted into the GCVU in order to deal with the backlog of applications for Garda vetting. At that stage, they claimed that it was taking 8-10 weeks to have an application processed. It reported that the GCVU processes applications for around 20,000 organisations and that it processed some 350,000 applications in 2012.

Given these large numbers of applications for Garda vetting, would a more streamlined system in the form of a type of passport/driving licence not be easier to implement?  Such a “passport” would follow the person from organisation to organisation, from job to job. It seems ludicrous that someone has to make multiple applications for Garda vetting, even in the space of one year. One teacher on Twitter mentioned that she had to make FIVE different applications for Garda vetting in a one year period: as a student teacher, for Teaching Council registration, the GAA club, the local hockey club and the youth choir. Two other teachers reported having to make three separate applications. Another person mentioned that a social worker who does work for different agencies has to get separate Garda vetting for each agency.

There are good reasons why Garda vetting is an important aspect of the teaching profession. Since the beginning of the 2006/2007 academic year, Garda vetting was introduced for new teachers and other new appointees who have unsupervised access to children and vulnerable adults. The area is governed since January 2011 by Circular 0063/2010. When the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012 comes into effect, it will make it mandatory for persons working with children or vulnerable adults to be vetted by the Gardaí whereas at present this is done on the basis of a voluntary code. The Bill will also create offences and penalties for persons who fail to comply with its provisions.

Student teachers have to get Garda clearance before they commence their first teaching practice. However, they must then get Garda clearance again as part of the application for registration with the Teaching Council. Surely, once they start their college course to become a teacher, that Garda clearance should transfer when they start out on their career? Another teacher in the third level sector says that students have to get separate clearance in each year of their course.

I contacted the Garda Press Office and asked them to clarify the following:

  • If it is correct that people must make multiple applications for different clubs/organisations
  • If this is correct, is this not a waste of Garda time
  • Why can one application not be transferable from one organisation to another

I received the following statement in reply:

“The Garda Central Vetting Unit does not provide ‘Garda Clearance’. The function of the GCVU is to conduct Garda Vetting checks in respect of all Garda Vetting applications received from all organisations registered with the GCVU for Garda Vetting services; and issue disclosures in respect of each application to each organisation.

Garda Vetting Disclosures are predicated on the signed authorisation of a Vetting Subject for An Garda Síochána to disclose “details of all prosecutions, successful or not, pending or completed, and/or convictions which may be recorded in respect of them in the State or elsewhere”; or alternatively that there are “no prosecutions or convictions recorded in respect of them” to the registered organisation.

An Garda Síochána records court outcomes as handed down by the Courts in respect of prosecutions; and records indicate whether the prosecuted individual was either convicted or acquitted, and the details pertaining. An Garda Síochána does not record convictions in instances where individuals were not convicted.

One of the questions on the Garda Vetting Application Form is: Have you ever been convicted of an offence in the Republic of Ireland or elsewhere?; and if so, please provide details. This question facilitates, where applicable, the self-disclosure by individuals of any convictions that may be recorded in respect of them”.

In a follow-up enquiry, again on the issue of having to make multiple applications for Garda Vetting, the Garda Press Office simply said that “The onus is on companies/organisations to ensure all their staff are vetted so multiple applications may arise”.

It seems extraordinary to me that, while Garda Vetting is necessary for all personnel working with children and vulnerable adults, a less cumbersome system cannot be found that would allow someone to get Garda Vetting approval for any school/club/organisation with which they are involved.

This video gives a brief demonstration of how the Garda Vetting process works:

Let us know your views on this issue by leaving a comment below. If you have not commented on the site before, your comment will be held in moderation until it is approved, just to make sure it is not spam. Once a comment from you has been approved, you can then comment as often as you wish.

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Ellen March 27, 2013 at 6:35 pm

I have completed GV for a number of different groups including volunteering in a local school, as a student teacher, for Comhaltas, volunteering at an after school club, GAA club, Vincent de Paul and St John Ambulance. That’s 7 times the GVU have said that I am safe to work with children. A single certificate, renewable every 3/4/5 years, should be issued. The GVU got 3 applications from me at the same time for different orgs. A waste of time and resources that could be made much simpler and cost effective.

admin March 27, 2013 at 9:31 pm

Someone on Facebook has told me that if you change schools you need to have fresh Garda vetting done. I didn’t know that!

admin March 27, 2013 at 9:31 pm

Of course, the huge anomaly is that many of us have never been Garda vetted.

Simon Lewis (@simonmlewis) March 27, 2013 at 10:49 pm

Yep, huge pain in the neck. We are waiting to hire a bus escort who already has garda vetting in her current job. She can’t start until it clears.

admin March 27, 2013 at 11:30 pm

Principal on Twitter said he sent forms in for Secretary in September and got them back last Tuesday!

Claire Hennessy March 28, 2013 at 10:01 am

It’s incredibly inefficient for people working with multiple organisations and actually says very little. Having a transferable child protection certificate, which indicates not only that adults working with young people haven’t been convicted of a criminal offence (a little too basic, surely?) but that they’re conscious of issues around child protection, would be much more sensible.

admin March 28, 2013 at 11:04 am

A person on Twitter just said that she was vetted three times in one month!

Joanne McHugh April 1, 2013 at 9:10 pm

I am still waiting for my Garda Vetting to come back & this week is 16 weeks waiting! It’s a joke I can’t start work until it comes back and yet their giving out about the number of people claiming Social Welfare!!!! Country is an absolute joke of a system

Stel. C April 16, 2013 at 11:41 pm

I am now into week 19 , of waiting to hear back in relation to Garda Vetting
Its a disgrace – I have been out of work, for a long time, and when finally I become sucessful, I have to wait to start, this lenght of time..

I have rang the Central Garda Vetting Unit, now many times and have been told 14 weeks is the maximum time frame for waiting.
Not True!!

No other Countries would put up with this so called system

tim April 26, 2013 at 5:20 pm

I was in my local labour Td’s office in Athy, Kildare and they informed me there is only 2 Garda working on the vetting section now that’s a joke im waiting 12 weeks now have a job but cant start till i get vetted so am living it up on dole wohoo

eil May 6, 2013 at 4:13 pm

I’ve been vetted a number of times for different organisations. The IABA have this system that with your vetting form you also send them two passport sized photos and a small fee, so when you get your clearance they issue you with an identity garda vetted card. Surely this should be something all organisations should look into and have a universal vetted card.

mark June 5, 2013 at 4:10 pm

Only in backward Ireland would you get such a system.
I’m on social welfare yet I have been offered a job as a social Care worker.
I can’t start until my vetting comes back. I have applied to 6 different times now. Before you even go for interview now they ask that you send in a vetting form as it takes so long.
Therefore, you have large numbers of people being vetted who will not even get a job.

Paul September 10, 2013 at 1:15 am

Take a closer look at what the Gardaí are actually saying: “record of prosecutions”. This is a big leap from merely “record of convictions”.

It’s not good enough to record a prosecution on someone’s vetting record as “non-conviction” because the mere fact it’s noted at all creates suspicion about the person. It’s fundamentally unconstitutional and unfair – a person who’s acquitted is innocent but mention of a prosecution taints them and attacks their Constititional right to a presumption of innocence

Paul September 10, 2013 at 1:18 am

Garda Vetting is a Trojan horse – it’s not to protect children, it’s to let the Gardaí blacklist people who get on their wrong side.

What is “soft information”?
It’s whatever the Gardaí feel like saying about you – there’s no boundary

Neville Graver October 21, 2013 at 5:24 pm

We have a situation in our village where we have a Community Centre run by a company with a CE scheme , where people could be involved generally for its activities, for a local day care centre, for local sports organisations and a youth club and in running courses so that the same person could require up to 5 applications . There has to be a better way. I certainly would concur with the idea of a ” passport , perhaps with a maximum life of 2 years , even if it was restricted to specified organisations.

Dave January 13, 2014 at 11:13 pm

I started a new job in 2008 working with people with Alzheimer’s. Within 2 weeks I was called into the office, told to hand in my entry fob, asked not to contact anyone connected to the company, staff or residents and I was given a copy of my Garda Vetting which listed 55 convictions, none of which related to me in any way whatsoever. I sat at home for 2 months whilst they carried out investigation. Eventually I was contacted by the company and told it was a case of mistaken identity and I resumed my work. I never received an apology from anyone.
In 2013 I started work for a new company and did a new Garda Vetting. Low and behold the same 55 incorrect convictions showed up on my record, I have been suspended again, and I am currently sitting at home twiddling my thumbs as of Jan 2014.

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