An Garda Síochána has advised statutory, voluntary and community organisations that work with children and vulnerable people of the need, to be compliant with vetting legislation.
Speaking at the first ever Garda National Vetting Conference, Deputy Commissioner, Policing and Security, John Twomey said that the Garda National Vetting Bureau has established a compliance unit that will be conducting regular checks on organisations to ensure they are adhering to their statutory obligations.
While An Garda Síochána will provide advice and guidance to organisations to help ensure compliance, Deputy Twomey advised organisations that they are liable for prosecution for significant and/or repeated breaches of the National Vetting Bureau Acts 2012 to 2016.
"Vetting is a core policing function. And that function is the protection of children and vulnerable people.
As such, vetting can be seen as often the first line of defence in keeping children and vulnerable people safe.
"That is why we take such care to make sure we get our vetting right,” said Deputy Twomey.
"In the first instance, the focus of compliance will be to promote best practice amongst relevant organisations, for example, through the facilitation of knowledge sharing amongst relevant organisations where good practice has been established.
"We would all like to work to a situation where such action would not be necessary and today’s conference is in part to help organisations ensure they are meeting the required standard.
"But where there are significant and repeated failings then investigations will take place and prosecutions may be recommended.
That is our responsibility and I know it is one that the Chief Bureau Officer of the National Garda Vetting Bureau takes very seriously.
The Conference also heard that in 2018 the Garda National Vetting Bureau received over 520,000 vetting applications with over 85% applications processed within five working days using An Garda Síochána’s award-winning e-vetting platform.
The volume of applications increased from the 390,000 received in 2016.
This Conference highlighted the ongoing commitment of An Garda Síochána in safeguarding children and vulnerable persons across Ireland.
A number of vetting and safeguarding specialists from An Garda Síochána and external agencies provided advice to organisations attending the conference.
Deputy Commissioner Twomey said: "The Garda National Vetting Conference reflects the determination and ongoing commitment of An Garda Síochána to pro-actively work with our key stakeholders to help keep children and vulnerable persons safe.”
Our e-vetting system has been central in transforming the application process, making it more efficient, effective and reliable.
"This conference illustrates the excellent work of various sections within An Garda Síochána, who play a key role in protecting the more vulnerable sections of our society," he added.