National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Bill 2012

The National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Bill 2012will set out vetting and disclosure procedures for persons intending to work with children or vulnerable adults.

Vetting is already mandatory in certain industries under the Child Care Act 1991, the Child Care Regulations 2006, the Teaching Council Act 2001, the Taxi Regulation Act 2003 and the Private Security Services Act 2004.

Currently vetting is carried out by the Gardai on a non-statutory basis. The Garda Central Vetting Unit (to be renamed the National Vetting Bureau) deals with requests from organisations which register to vet certain prospective employees. A relevant organisation will not be required to register where another relevant organisation, registered with the Bureau, submits applications for vetting disclosures on its behalf. This will allow groups such as schools to submit applications through a representative body.

Who is covered?

Under the newly published Bill persons are prohibited from working in “relevant work or activities” relating to Children or vulnerable adults unless they have been vetted. Persons who assist occasionally and on a voluntary basis in certain activities are exempt from the procedures.

Under the Bill, the Bureau will be required to establish a database consisting of a register of;

  •  relevant organisations
  • specified information
  • vetted persons
This is in addition to the records of criminal convictions which the Garda already holds.

Specified Information

Current protocols relating to vetting are not clearly laid out in such legislation and there is no legal basis for the gardaí to disclose “soft” information (referred to as “Specified Information“) which may be details on a  person which have been gathered in an inquiry but where there is no conviction for a criminal offence.

Criticisms of the current protocols are that this information should be contained in the vetting as it can give rise to “a bona fide concern a person may harm a child or vulnerable person“.

The disclosure of soft information is tightly controlled, only information that arises as a result of an investigation, inquiry or regulatory process will be considered.

Failure to Comply

Failure to comply with vetting procedures is an offence under the newly established Bill. It will be a defence for a person to show that he or she did not know, nor could reasonably be expected to know, that the work for which a person was engaged constituted relevant work or activity.

Current Employees

Employers must be aware that persons previously vetted for their current roles must be re-vetted, and persons in a role that would come under the remit of the Bill but were not previously vetted would be retrospectively vetted for their roles.

 

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