The law makes it a criminal offence for some people who fail to notify their employers they are guilty of certain criminal offences before taking a job or performing a service. This duty to notify your employer relates primarily to sex offenders guilty of offences committed in Ireland and abroad. Section 26 of the Sex Offenders Act 2001 makes it an offence for a sex offender to "apply for work or to perform a service (including State work or service) which involves having unsupervised access to, or contact with children or mentally impaired people without telling the prospective employer or contractor that you are a sex offender".
The terms "State work or service" includes work done by civil servants, Gardaí, Defence Forces, local authority and Health Service Executive (HSE) staff. The term mentally impaired is used in the 2001 Act and is defined in Section 5 of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 1993. This refers to anyone suffering from a disorder of the mind, whether through mental disability or mental illness, which is of such a nature or degree as to render them incapable of living an independent life or of guarding against serious exploitation.
The Garda Central Vetting Unit deals with requests to provide information on certain prospective employees or other workers. Workers include staff, volunteers and those on student placements working for an organisation through which they have unsupervised access to children and/or vulnerable adults. It only deals with requests from organisations that are registered with the Unit - see 'How to apply' below.
When a prospective employee is vetted by the Gardaí the details of all convictions and prosecutions are disclosed to the authorised liaison person in the registered organisation. The details will include all completed prosecutions whether or not they were successful and will also include any pending prosecutions. Details of the Garda vetting procedure are available on garda.ie.
Since 31 March 2014 an administrative filter (pdf) has been applied to all Garda vetting applications. This allows certain minor convictions over 7 years old to be removed from disclosures.
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.
When the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012 comes into effect, it will make it mandatory for persons working with children or vulnerable adults to be vetted by the Gardaí. The Act also provides for the use of "soft" information in regard to vetting. This 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 persons. Under the Act the Garda Central Vetting Unit will become the National Vetting Bureau and the vetting procedures will be put on a statutory basis.
Re-vetting: Section 20 of the Act provides for the re-vetting of employees and other workers after a certain period of time. Until the Act is in effect, good practice suggests that re-vetting should be carried out every 5 years.
The Act lists the work or activities where people working with children and vulnerable adult will require vetting. These include:
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).
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 Garda Vetting Unit – see ‘Where to apply’ below. You must enclose the following:
A disclosure in response to your data protection access request will be sent directly to you for your personal use. 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.
Organisations that require Garda vetting must register with the Garda Central Vetting Unit – see ‘Where to apply’ below. Details of the procedure for registering an organisation are on the Garda Síochána website.
If you are applying for a position that requires you to have Garda vetting you will be sent a Garda Vetting Application form by the registered organisation where you are applying.
There is more information in this list of frequently
asked questions about Garda vetting on the Garda Síochána website.
Locall:1890 488 488
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 (Pre-School Services) (No 2) Regulations 2006 and the Child Care (Pre-School Services) (No 2) (Amendment) Regulations 2006 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.
If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.