404. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Justice and Equality her plans to do away with non-convictions showing up on Garda statements issued in response to Garda clearance requests from employers-colleges; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [49599/14]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): The National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012 provides that information regarding non-convictions will be dealt with as "specified information" under section 15 of that Act. Such information will only be included in a vetting disclosure if the non-conviction information gives rise to a bona fide belief that the person would pose a threat to a child or vulnerable person. Most non-convictions relate to minor offences such as motoring or public order offences. However in a small number of cases non-convictions arise in cases of assault or sexual offences where for a variety of reasons the person is not prosecuted or convicted.
The 2012 Act provides certain important safeguards where disclosure of a non-conviction is proposed. The information that is to be disclosed must be provided to the vetting applicant and they must be given the opportunity to appeal the proposed decision to disclose the information to an independent Appeals Officer. The person can also ultimately appeal a decision by an Appeals Officer on a point of law to the High Court.
The National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012 has not yet been commenced. This is because a 2013 UK Court of Appeal judgment necessitated a review of the disclosure provisions in both the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012 and the Spent Convictions Bill. That review has been completed and amendments to the Vetting Act and consequential amendments to the Spent Convictions Bill are currently being drafted. The 2012 Act will then be commenced at the earliest opportunity. Pending the amendment of the Act, an Administrative Filter for Garda Vetting Disclosures has been introduced, which provides that certain minor offences that are over 7 years old are no longer disclosed.