95. Deputy James Lawless asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if one Garda vetting application can be carried between separate organisations; and if not, if a person has to complete a separate application for each organisation with which the person is involved. [24670/19]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): The Deputy will appreciate that the primary purpose of the employment vetting carried out by the National Vetting Bureau is to seek to ensure the safety of children and vulnerable adults. It is carried out by An Garda Síochána primarily in accordance with the provisions of the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012-2016 and is, as I am sure you will agree, a very important task which must be done thoroughly and correctly. My Department has no role in the processing of individual vetting applications.
Regarding sharing of vetting between organisations, vetting checks are conducted by the Garda National Vetting Bureau for each new vetting application received to ensure that the most recent data available is taken into account. This is because once there has been any significant lapse of time between one employment and another, the original vetting disclosure must be reviewed to take account of any changes in information, such as more recent criminal convictions.
In addition, the Data Protection Acts require that any sensitive personal data which employers use in regard to their employees must be current, accurate and up-to-date. Importantly, the general non-transferability and contemporaneous nature of the current process also helps to protect against the risk of fraud or forgery in the process.
However, the Act provides for the sharing of vetting disclosures in certain circumstances by registered organisations; a facility which is of assistance in the health and education sectors, for example, in reducing the need for multiple vetting applications. Section 12(3A) of the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012 (as amended) provides that two or more relevant organisations can enter into a joint written agreement in relation to the employment, contracting, permitting or placement of a person to undertake relevant work or activities, thereby providing for only one of the organisations being required to conduct vetting in respect of that person.
In general, the vetting process is working well and I understand that there are no backlogs or delays in Garda vetting at present. This efficiency has been achieved by the deployment of the e-vetting system which facilitates the on-line processing of applications for vetting from registered organisations. The current turnaround time for vetting applications submitted by organisations utilising the e-vetting system is 5 working days for over 85% of applications received. Individual applicants can track the process of their application online using the e-vetting tracking system, details of which are contained in the email received by applicants when completing their application online. Furthermore, in circumstances where there is such a sustained reduction in processing times, the issue of vetting “transferability” is largely obviated.