An Garda Síochána has established a compliance unit to conduct regular checks on statutory, voluntary and community organisations to ensure they are meeting their vetting obligations.
The new unit was confirmed at the first ever Garda National Vetting Conference, at which gardaí warned organisations which work with children and vulnerable people of the need to be compliant with vetting legislation.
There are almost 25,000 community and voluntary organisations in the country, with all employees and volunteers required to be Garda vetted.
In 2018, the Garda National Vetting Bureau received more than 520,000 vetting applications with more than 85% applications processed within five working days. This volume of applications was a significant increase from the 390,000 received in 2016.
Speaking at the conference, Deputy Commissioner, Policy and Security, John Twomey said that the Garda National Vetting Bureau has established the new compliance unit to conduct regular checks to ensure that organisations are meeting their requirements.
He said that organisations are liable for prosecution for significant or repeated breaches of the National Vetting Bureaus 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 Commissioner 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 [the] 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,” added Deputy Twomey.
The conference, held at Croke Park yesterday, highlighted the ongoing commitment of An Garda Síochána in safeguarding children and vulnerable persons. 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.”
Deputy Commissioner Twomey said that the Garda's e-vetting system, which is responsible for the quick processing of applications, has transformed the application process.
He said it is more "efficient, effective and reliable" as a result.