The National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Acts 2012-2016 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 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, anyone 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 where they have 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 individuals 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.
People working with children and vulnerable adults require vetting for the following work or activities:
- Childcare services
- Hospitals and health services
- Residential services or accommodation for children or vulnerable people
- Treatment, therapy or counselling services for children or vulnerable people
- Provision of leisure, sporting or physical activities to children or vulnerable people
- Promotion of religious beliefs
Private security employees: The Private Security Services Act 2004 extended Garda vetting 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 under 18 and found guilty, the offence can be automatically deleted from the record as if it was 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 General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Acts 1988 and 2018 you have the right to access the personal data held about you by an Garda Siochána. You can request this information in writing or by completing a Subject Access Request form (pdf). If you are making an access request in writing, you must sign it and say that you are requesting it under the General Data Protection Regulation. 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 also send:
- A copy of your passport or driving licence and
- A copy of a recent utility bill or a letter from a Government department (issued within the last six months to your current address)
If you are applying through your solicitor, you also need a signed letter of consent stating that the data can be released to your solicitor.
If your parent or guardian (third party) is making the request on your behalf, you need to include their identification documents, for example, a copy of their passport or driving licence.
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). This response to your data protection access request is not the same as Garda vetting, a Police Certificate, a Garda Reference or proof of no convictions.
Employer retention of vetting information
Personal data must be destroyed when the purpose for which it was sought has expired. Employers should delete Garda vetting disclosures a year after they are received, except in exceptional circumstances. The reference number and date of a disclosure can be retained on file and this can be checked with An Garda Siochana, should future queries arise.
There is a guidance note for organisations on data protection considerations when vetting prospective employees on the data protection website.
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 or you can apply using a paper form instead. If you are aged under 18 you must submit a consent form signed parent or guardian.
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:
- 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.