The National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Acts 2012-2016, which came into effect on 29 April 2016, make it mandatory for people working with children or vulnerable adults to be vetted by the Garda Síochána National Vetting Bureau.
You can read more information in these frequently asked questions about Garda vetting on the National Vetting Bureau website.
National Vetting Bureau
The National Vetting Bureau of the Garda Síochána (formerly the Garda Central Vetting Unit) deals with requests to provide information on certain prospective employees or other workers. The Bureau carries out vetting for relevant organisations that are registered with it. Read more about the vetting procedure here.
Vetting is not done for individuals on a personal basis – see ‘Requesting personal data’ below.
Who must be vetted?
Under the Acts, any person whose work or activity involves access to children or vulnerable adults must be vetted. Workers include staff, volunteers and those on student placements working for a relevant organisation through which they have unsupervised access to children and/or vulnerable adults. Section 2 defines “relevant organisation” as one that employs or permits a person to carry out work or activities which mainly consist of them having access to, or contact with, children or vulnerable adults.
Self-employed: Vetting is not conducted for individual persons on a personal basis. Applications for self-employed people can only be submitted through a relevant organisation as defined in Section 2 of the Act.
The work or activities where people working with children and vulnerable adult will require vetting include:
- Childcare services – see also ‘Further information’ below
- 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, sporting or physical activities to children or vulnerable persons
- Promotion of religious beliefs
Private security employees: Under the Private Security Services Act 2004 Garda vetting has been extended to private security employees (for example, bouncers and nightclub security staff).
When a prospective worker is vetted by the National Vetting Bureau, their criminal record (if any) is disclosed to the authorised liaison person in the registered organisation – see ‘How to apply’ below. A vetting disclosure will include details of all convictions and pending prosecutions and a statement of specified information* (if any) or a statement that there is no criminal record or specified information relating to the person being vetted.
*Specified information (also known as “soft” information) is information other than criminal convictions where such information leads to a bona-fide belief that a person poses a threat to children or vulnerable people.
Minor offences: Under Section 14A of the Acts convictions for certain minor offences in the District Court that are over 7 years old are not included in the disclosure. However this provision does not apply to offences that are specified in Schedule 3 of the Acts and in Schedule 1 of the Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions and Certain Disclosures) Act 2016.
Re-vetting: Section 20 of the Acts provides for the re-vetting of employees and other workers after a certain period of time which is to be set out in regulations. Until then, good practice suggests that re-vetting should be carried out every 5 years.
The National Vetting Bureau also does vetting which is not governed by the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Acts 2012–2016 but is required by other legislation. For example, people applying to work for certain bodies, such as the Garda Síochána, the Courts Service and some government departments have to disclose any spent convictions. The vetting process is the same except that specified information is not disclosed for these Non-Act applications.
Other personal data issues
In general, when you apply for a job that does not require Garda vetting, you must give details of any criminal convictions. However, if you are convicted of an offence covered by Section 5 of the Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions and Certain Disclosures) Act 2016, you do not have to disclose the conviction after 7 years, except in certain circumstances. You can read more in our document on spent convictions.
Under Section 258 of the Children Act 2001, if someone committed an offence when aged under 18 for which they have been found guilty, the offence can be automatically expunged from the record as if never committed, once certain conditions are met. You can read more information in our document, Children and the criminal justice system.
Requesting personal data
Under the Data Protection Acts 1988 and 2003 (pdf) you have the right to access personal data about you that is held by an Garda Siochána. You can request this information either in writing or by completing a Data Protection Access Request form (pdf). Your written request or completed form should be sent to the National Vetting Bureau of the Garda Síochána – see ‘Where to apply’ below. You must enclose the following:
- Fee of €6.35 – you can pay by cheque, money order or postal order made payable to: The Accountant, Department of Justice
- Photocopy of your passport or birth certificate or driving licence or other identification
A disclosure in response to your data protection access request will be sent directly to you for your personal use. If you request a copy of your criminal record from the Garda Síochána, the record will be provided in 2 parts, with the spent convictions provided separately from the other convictions (if any). It is not the same as Garda vetting, a Police Certificate, a Garda Reference or proof of no convictions.
Employers: Under section 4 of the Data Protection Acts, it is illegal for an employer to require an employee or a potential employee to make a data protection access request (“enforced subject access request”). The Data Protection Commissioner has published guidance on data protection considerations when vetting prospective employees.
It is important to remember that Garda vetting is not the same as obtaining a Police Certificate which is provided by the Gardaí to people in Ireland who need them for a range of reasons. These reasons may include starting a business abroad or in order to obtain a visa for another country. You can find further information in our document on Police Certificates.
How to apply
An organisation that requires Garda vetting of individuals must register with the National Vetting Bureau – see ‘Where to apply’ below. The organisation must appoint a liaison person to apply for and receive vetting disclosures.
Details of the procedure for registering an organisation are on the National Vetting Bureau website.
If you are applying for a position that requires you to have Garda vetting, you will be sent a Garda vetting application form (electronic or paper). You apply to be vetted using e-Vetting but you may apply using a paper form instead. If you are aged under 18 you must submit a signed parent or guardian consent form.
To use e-Vetting you must be aged over 16. You must have a valid email address and complete the “proof of identity” process.
The e-Vetting procedure is as follows:
- You will be sent a vetting invitation form by the registered organisation where you are applying for a position. You must complete the form and return to the organisation together with proof of your identity.
- The organisation will validate your proof of identity and send you an email with a link to the vetting application form.
- You complete the vetting application form online and submit it to the organisation.
- The organisation reviews your vetting application form and submits it to the National Vetting Bureau.
- The National Vetting Bureau processes the application and sends a vetting disclosure to the organisation.
- The organisation reviews the disclosure and will send you a copy of it.
You can track your e-Vetting application.
Disputes and appeals
If you wish to dispute the detail in the vetting disclosure, you should write to the liaison person in the organisation with a summary of the basis for your dispute. The liaison person will then send the complete application file to the National Vetting Bureau to be re-checked.
If you wish to appeal the decision of the Chief Officer of the National Vetting Bureau in relation to disclosure of specified information, there is an independent appeals process.
Where to apply
Vetting of childcare workers
The national standards for children’s residential centres include a requirement that all staff, students and volunteers are appropriately vetted, to include references and Garda Síochána and/or police authority criminal record checks, before taking up duties. The Child Care (Special Care) Regulations 2004 provide that the HSE or voluntary body or any other person providing or maintaining a special care unit will ensure that staff or others who have access to children are appropriately vetted. That is, by obtaining references and Garda Síochána and/or other police authority criminal record checks.
The Child Care Act 1991 (Early Years Services) Regulations 2016 require pre-school childcare services to obtain references and Garda vetting for all staff, students and volunteers who have access to children. The Child Care (Placement of Children in Foster Care) Regulations 1995 and the Child Care (Placement of Children with Relatives) Regulations 1995 require that foster parents or relatives with whom children in the care of the HSE are to be placed give authorisation to allow the HSE to obtain a statement from the Garda Síochána as to whether there are any convictions against them or any relevant member of the household and to provide the names of two referees for reference purposes.