Sunday 17 December 2017

Outrage over 12-week child vetting crisis

GARDAI: Charities angry at delays

THE backlog of applications for garda vetting has reached crisis point and is putting children at serious risk.

A children's rights organisation today called on Justice Minister Dermot Ahern to take immediate action, as the Herald reveals that the waiting time is now 12 weeks.

Around 60,000 applications are currently being processed by the Garda Central Vetting Unit (GCVU) with a turnover time of between 10 and 12 weeks.

"The situation is reaching crisis point for many of our member organisations, with some reporting delays of between 8 to 12 weeks," said the Children's Rights Alliance.

The body, a coalition of over 90 non-governmental organisations, says the work of charity and volunteer groups is being seriously hindered by the delays.

CEO Jillian van Turnhout told the Herald: "Ensuring a person does not have a criminal conviction for a child protection offence is a basic measure, so it is vital that the vetting process happens in a timely and efficient manner."

Since 2007, the GCVU has vetted over 700,000 applications but an increase in activity has not been matched by a rise in staffing levels.

Mr Ahern acknowledged that the process was necessary for people employed or volunteering in positions that "would have substantial, unsupervised access to children and/or vulnerable adults". But he admitted: "There will always be a reasonably significant time period required to process a vetting application.

"Registered organisations have been advised to take account of this in their recruitment and selection process."

And the minister said that "demand is particularly high at present".

"The processing time for vetting applications fluctuates during the year due to seasonal demands when the volume of applications received from certain sectors can increase."

However, Ms van Turnhout said: "This is unacceptable and is a risk to child protection. These delays are seriously curtailing the work of organisations who are trying to provide services to children and communities."

Mr Ahern said the allocation of garda resources, including personnel was a matter for the Garda Commissioner.


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