Wooly Farm’s Garda Vetting Policy

Wooly Ward’s Farm Approval date

30/04/18

Revision Date

30/04/ 21

Responsibility for approval of policy Owner & Proprietor
Responsibility for implementation Garda Vetting Officer
Responsibility for ensuring review Owner & Proprietor

 

1. Policy Statement
Wooly Farm is committed to the protection and welfare of our customers. As part of this commitment Wooly Farm will comply with relevant legislation and recommended best practice in recruitment and selection procedures for both employees, and will conduct Garda Vetting, where appropriate, as part of this process.

2. Purpose
The purpose of this document is to provide information and guidance on Garda Vetting procedures within Wooly Farm.

3. Scope
This policy applies to all Wooly Farm employees who will carry out “relevant work” with children and/or vulnerable persons as defined in the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012. (See Appendix). Responsibility for ensuring this policy is effectively implemented rests with Proprietor: Mary Ward and designated the Garda Vetting Officer. All other staff members of Wooly Farm are expected to facilitate and support the implementation of this policy.

Roles in which staff do carry out “relevant work”
Proprietor: The proprietor is required to be vetted for a number of relevant activities under the National Vetting Bureau bill including but not limited to: provision of educational, training, cultural, recreational, leisure, social or physical activities to children and vulnerable persons; and provision by a person of accommodation for a child in his or her own home.

Office Staff/Project Manager: The office and Project manager is not in consistent contact with children or vulnerable adults, however, they will act as manager of students or employees under the age of 18 employed by the company and will be expected to partake in relevant work throughout their employment. Duties under “relevant work” include but are not limited to provision of educational, training, cultural, recreational, leisure, social or physical activities to children.

Event Staff Manager: The Event Staff manager must be vetted as they are in regular contact with children and vulnerable persons through the commercial activities of the company and through training of new employees under the age of 18. Duties under “relevant work” include but are not limited to provision of educational, training, cultural, recreational, leisure, social or physical activities to children and vulnerable persons.

Animal Care Manager: The Animal Care manager must be vetted as they are in regular contact with children and vulnerable persons through the commercial activities of the company; through training of new employees under the age of 18; and care of students under the age of 18 during their stay with the company. Duties under “relevant work” include but are not limited to provision of educational, training, cultural, recreational, leisure, social or physical activities to children and vulnerable persons.

Van and Farm Maintenance Staff: The Van and Farm Maintenance staff are not in consistent contact with children or vulnerable adults, however, they will act as manager of students accommodated by the company or employees under the age of 18 and will be expected to partake in relevant work throughout their employment. Duties under “relevant work” include but are not limited to provision of educational, training, cultural, recreational, leisure, social or physical activities to children.

Event Staff: Event staff are required to be vetted as they are in regular contact with children and vulnerable persons through the commercial activities of the company. Duties under “relevant work” include but are not limited to provision of educational, training, cultural, recreational, leisure, social or physical activities to children and vulnerable persons.

Driver: Drivers accompany event staff to locations in which they will be in regular contact with children and vulnerable persons through the commercial activities of the company. Duties under “relevant work” include but are not limited to provision of educational, training, cultural, recreational, leisure, social or physical activities to children and vulnerable persons; Work as a driver of a public service vehicle which is being used for the purpose of conveying children (staff under age of 18).

Roles in which staff do not carry out “relevant work”
Student Visitors: Throughout the year, Wooly Farm accommodates a number of students, some of whom are under the age of 18, who work with the animal care, farm maintenance, and event staff. These students are not required to be vetted as they do not carry out “relevant work” and are not in the position to form a relationship with children and/or vulnerable adults as they are only staying with the company for a short period of time and do not participate in repeat events.

Once-off Farm Event Staff: Approx. three times a year, Wooly Farm hires in additional once-off staff to assist with on farm events including Easter, Teddy Bear’s Picnic, and Halloween. These additional staff are not required to be vetted as they do not carry out “relevant work” and are not in direct contact with or in the position to form a relationship with children and/or vulnerable adults as these events only run for 3 hours over a 3-6-day period with different children and/or vulnerable adults in attendance.

4. Glossary of Terms and Definitions
Garda Central Vetting Unit (GCVU) / National Vetting Bureau (NVB) – is the national unit of the Garda Síochána which conducts vetting of applicants to ascertain whether applicants have prior convictions and / or prosecutions. The GCVU is now known as the “National Vetting Bureau” following the commencement of the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Bill 2012 to 2016.
Garda Vetting: This is the process by which the NVB discloses details regarding “prosecutions, successful or not, pending or completed, and/or convictions” in respect of an individual and with that individual’s consent to their prospective employer and/or the Wooly Farm with which they wish to volunteer. (Please note, unsuccessful convictions may not be disclosed.)
Liaison Person – is the person who is nominated to apply for and receive vetting disclosures on behalf of applicant Wooly Farm. The Liaison Person may be nominated to act for a consortium of Wooly Farm or from a representative body for a group of Wooly Farm. The Authorised Signatory is now known as the “Liaison Person” following the commencement of the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012 to 2016.
Natural Justice – There are essentially two sections to the Rules of Natural Justice, the first being derived from the Latin maximum “audi alteram partem” (let the other side be heard). This is the duty to allow persons affected by a decision to have a reasonable opportunity of presenting their case. The second part of the Rules of Natural Justice is derived from the Latin maxim “nema judex in causa sua” (no one can be the judge in his own cause). This gives rise to a duty to act fairly, to listen to arguments, and to reach a decision in a manner that is untainted by bias.
Child – a person under the age of 18 years.
Vulnerable Adult – a person, other than a child who – is suffering from a disorder of the mind, whether as a result of mental illness or dementia; has an intellectual disability; is suffering from a physical impairment, whether as a result of injury, illness or age, or has a physical disability, which is of such a nature or degree as to restrict the capacity of the person to guard himself or herself against harm by another person, or, that results in the person requiring assistance with the activities of daily living including dressing, eating, walking, washing and bathing.

5. Principles
Garda Vetting is just one of a number of elements that Wooly Farm implements to ensure the protection and safety of the children and/or vulnerable persons in Wooly Farm care. Appropriate recruitment screening (including interviews, reference checking), child protection and health and safety procedures, etc. will be implemented along with Garda Vetting.
An individual will not work unsupervised with children or vulnerable adults in Wooly Farm until their Garda vetting has been completed and the results conveyed to the Wooly Farm Garda Vetting Officer by the Liaison Person.
Having a criminal record will not automatically exclude an individual from employment unless they relate to the offences outline in Section 10 of the Act. Decisions on whether to involve an individual with prior criminal convictions will take into account:
the individuals’ abilities, skills, experiences and qualifications;
the nature of the conviction and its relevance to the job;
the length of time since the offence took place;
the risk to the service users, employees and Wooly Farm;
training which may have occurred since the time individual’s offence
Wooly Farm will employ a Natural Justice framework in dealing with any disclosures of convictions.

6. Vetting Applications Process
All vetting applications for employment roles with Wooly Farm shall be processed by a Liaison Person who is trained by the National Vetting Bureau in the management of Vetting applications and disclosures. Wooly Farm has appointed Barnados Ireland to act as Liaison Person on its behalf.

Wooly Farm will nominate one staff member to act as the ‘Garda Vetting Officer’ (GVO). The responsibilities of the GVO include:
• Assessing when Garda vetting is necessary for each employment position i.e. the role involves “relevant work” with children or vulnerable persons as specified in the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012 to 2016.
• Ensuring that candidates for employment positions are provided with the correct Garda vetting forms and that the forms are completed accurately and in full, prior to submitting them to the Liaison Person.
• Verifying the identity of the person submitting the vetting application by checking relevant ID (e.g. passport, driving licence), and keeping all documents of this is a private secure environment.
• Ensuring all personal information in relation to vetting is kept confidentially and in compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation and best practice.

o This includes:
 keeping all printed declarations in a secure filing cabinet only accessible to the GVO and those nominated of the Garda Vetting Committee and;
 ensuring that these records are disposed once the person is no longer employed by Wooly Farm.
• That Wooly Farm staff are aware of the Wooly Farm Garda Vetting Policy.
Wooly Farm will nominate 3 representatives from the staff to make up the “Garda Vetting Committee”. They are to assist the GVO on the items described below.

7. Ensuring Wooly Farm compliance with the Garda Vetting policy
The Committee will assist the Garda Vetting Officer to make decisions on the suitability of candidates following the disclosure of convictions via the Garda vetting process.
If the individual being vetted is over the age of 16 and under the age of 18, they are required to have a completed parent / guardian consent form which must be submitted along with their vetting application form.
Wooly Farm will not accept historical vetting information from employment candidates or from their previous employers. Each new employee must be vetted via the Wooly Farm vetting process, even if engaging an individual already vetted elsewhere. Wooly Farm will require all its existing staff to be re-vetted at regular intervals of 3 years.

8. Vetting Disclosures Process
On return from the National Vetting Bureau the forms will be processed by the nominated Liaison Person who will inform the Wooly Farm GVO by letter/email of the results.
The Liaison Person will pass on a copy of any possible or probable convictions to the Garda Vetting Officer for their consideration, and this document will be held confidentially.
Where there are no convictions, an offer of a position of employment role will be issued to the candidate in line with Wooly Farm other screening/recruitment procedures.
Where serious convictions are disclosed, (for e.g. those itemised in 10. Circumstances for the Withdrawal of the offer to Work) a letter will be sent to the person asking them to attend a meeting with the Vetting Officer. This letter must not disclose the information on the returned Garda Vetting form. The purpose of this meeting is to allow the applicant access to the information returned by the National Vetting Bureau and to give them an opportunity to explain the circumstances surrounding the conviction.
A written record of this meeting will be kept, and the time, date and duration of the meeting recorded. At this meeting, Wooly Farm will ensure that: Everyone, no matter what their history, is given fair and equal treatment and the right to state their case. Cognisance is of Repeat Offending, Restorative Justice and Rehabilitation of Offenders. A disclosure of conviction will not automatically preclude the applicant from obtaining the position in question. Cognisance is taken of the applicant’s self-disclosure or non-disclosure of a conviction at the time of the application and of their experience (work record etc.) and rehabilitation subsequent to any conviction disclosed.
Where multiple convictions are evident but may be as the result of a particular lifestyle, e.g., drug addiction, then the change in lifestyle must be taken into consideration.
Applicants who deny any convictions returned by the National Vetting Bureau will be provided with details on how to write a letter of appeal to amend their records at the National Vetting Bureau.
Applicants are informed that in the case of uncertainties their form will be returned to the National Vetting Bureau seeking clarification.
The applicants name and date of birth are clarified at the start of the meeting as mistakes may be made by the National Vetting Bureau where names and addresses are similar.
Wooly Farm will consider each Garda Vetting disclosure returned with convictions individually and Wooly Farm will always treat the applicant with respect, dignity and complete confidentially. Wooly Farm recognises that there are three potential outcomes of the review meeting:
i) In line with this policy and taking all things into consideration including interview, current history and references, the applicant may be offered the position.
ii) The applicants Garda Vetting form is returned to the National Vetting Bureau for further clarification. In which case a second review meeting may be held.
iii) The applicant is deemed unsuitable for the position on offer by nature of their history of offences.
In each case a written explanation of the outcome will be sent to the applicant by letter. A record of this letter, including date sent must be kept. A record of any replies received, and any follow-up must also be kept.

9. Confidentiality and Data Protection
All information in the vetting process will be held in a manner consistent with the Wooly Farm confidentiality policy. Wooly Farm also complies fully with good practice regarding the secure storage, handling and use of the National Vetting Bureau disclosures and personal vetting information as per our Data Protection Policy and our legal obligations under Data Protection Legislation

10. Circumstances for the Withdrawal of the offer to Work
Wooly Farm considers the following as reasonable grounds to withdraw an offer or opportunity of employment role to an individual:
• The individual has been charged with, or convicted of a sexual offence;
• The individual has been charged with, or has a conviction for, an offence that relates to the ill treatment of a child, or a vulnerable adult;
• The individual has been charged with, or has a conviction for, the ownership, production or distribution of child pornography.
• Offences against the person, e.g. assault, harassment, coercion;
Wooly Farm considers the following list of offences to be relevant, and each case will be considered in a case-by-case basis:
• Breaches in trust, e.g. fraud, theft, larceny;
• Offences against property e.g. arson, armed robbery;
• Domestic Violence;
• Offences against the state.
Wooly Farm is conscious of not initiating policies that prohibit needlessly against rehabilitated individuals. Such cases will be objectively determined on a case-by-case basis in accordance with the criteria outlined under 5. Principles

11. Appeal Process
While the focus is on protecting children and vulnerable adults, there are also safeguards and due processes for those being vetted, including the right to appeal. Appeals should be made in writing to the Liaison Person within 14 days of issue of the decision.

12. Appendix to Garda Vetting Policy
Excerpt from Schedule 1, Part 1 and Part 2 from the National Vetting Bureau
(Children and Vulnerable Persons) Bill 2012.
PART 1: Relevant work or activities relating to children
1. Any work or activity which is carried out by a person, a necessary and regular part of which consists mainly of the person having access to, or contact with, children in –
(a) an establishment which provides pre-school services within the meaning of Part VII of the Child Care Act 1991,
(b) a school or centre of education, both within the meaning of the Education Act 1998,
(c) any hospital or health care centre which receives, treats or otherwise provides services to children,
(d) a designated centre within the meaning of section 2 of the Health Act 2007, in so far as it relates to an institution at which residential services are provided in accordance with the Child Care Act 1991,
(e) a special care unit provided and maintained in accordance with section 23K of the Child Care Act 1991,
(f) a children detention school within the meaning of section 3 of the Children Act 2001.
2. Any work or activity which consists of the provision of home tuition by a person pursuant to the Scheme administered and funded by the Department of Education and known as the Home Tuition Scheme.
3. Any work or activity which consists of treatment, therapy or counselling provided to a child by a person in the course of that work or activity.
4. Any work or activity which consists of care or supervision of children unless the care or supervision is merely incidental to the care or supervision of persons who are not children.
5. Any work or activity which consists of the provision of educational, training, cultural, recreational, leisure, social or physical activities (whether or not for commercial or any other consideration) to children unless the provision of educational, training, cultural, recreational, leisure, social or physical activities is merely incidental to the provision of educational, training, cultural, recreational, leisure, social or physical activities to persons who are not children.
6. Any work or activity which consists of the provision of advice, guidance, developmental, or counselling services, (including by means of electronic interactive communications) to children unless the provision of the advice, guidance, developmental or counselling service is merely incidental to the provision of those services to persons who are not children.
7. Any work or activity as a minister or priest or any other person engaged in the advancement of any religious beliefs.
8. Work as a driver of a public service vehicle which is being used only for the purpose of conveying children.
9. The provision by a person, whether or not for commercial or other consideration, of accommodation for a child in his or her own home.
10. Any research work or activities (howsoever described) carried out in a university, institute of technology or other establishment at which third level education is provided where a necessary and regular part of the research work or activity involves contact with or access to children.
11. Any application by a person to carry on or manage a designated centre within the meaning of section 2 of the Health Act 2007.
12. Any application by a person for a declaration of eligibility and suitability within the meaning of section 3 of the Adoption Act 2010.
13. Any assessment of a person’s suitability to act as a foster carer by or under section 39 of the Child Care Act 1991.
14. Any assessment by or under section 41 of the Child Care Act 1991 of a person’s suitability to act as a carer of a child in respect of whom he or she is a relative.
15. Any work or activity which is carried on by a person, a necessary and regular part of which requires the person to have access to, or contact with, children pursuant to the following enactments:
i. Medical Practitioners Act 2007;
ii. Nurses Act 1985;
iii. Nurses and Midwives Act 2011;
iv. Dentists Act 1985;
v. Health and Social Care Professionals Act 2005;
vi. Pharmacy Act 2007;
vii. Pre-Hospital Emergency Care Council Order 2000 (S.I.No. 109 of 2000);
viii. Pre-Hospital Emergency Care Council (Establishment) Order 2000 (Amendment) Order 2004 (S.I. No. 575 of 2004).
PART 2: Relevant work or activities relating to vulnerable persons
1. Any work or activity which is carried out by a person, a necessary and regular part of which consists mainly of the person having access to, or contact with, vulnerable persons in:
a. a school or centre of education, both within the meaning of the Education Act 1998, unless, in the case of a centre of education, the work or activity is merely incidental to work or activities undertaken in relation to persons who are not vulnerable persons,
b. any hospital or care centre which receives, treats or otherwise which provides services to vulnerable persons,
c. a designated centre within the meaning of section 2 of the Health Act 2007, in so far as it relates to an institution at which residential services are provided to vulnerable persons,
d. an approved centre within the meaning of Part 5 of the Mental Health Act 2001,
e. any facility which provides educational, training, cultural, recreational, leisure, social or physical activities (whether or not for commercial or any other consideration) for vulnerable persons,
f. In any facility which provides welfare, advice, guidance, developmental, or counselling services for vulnerable persons.
2. Any work or activity which consists of treatment, therapy or counselling provided to a vulnerable person by a person in the course of that work or activity.
3. Any work or activity which consists of the care (including the provision of health and personal social services and essential domestic services) of vulnerable persons unless the care is merely incidental to the care of persons who are not vulnerable persons.
4. Any work or activity which consists of the provision of educational, training, cultural, recreational, leisure, social or physical activities (whether or not for commercial or any other consideration) to vulnerable persons unless the provision of educational, training, cultural, recreational, leisure, social or physical activities is merely incidental to the provision of educational, training, cultural, recreational, leisure, social or physical activities to persons who are not vulnerable persons.
5. Any work or activity which consists of the provision of advice, guidance, developmental, or counselling services, (including by means of electronic interactive communications) to vulnerable persons unless the provision of the advice, guidance, develop mental or counselling service is merely incidental to the provision of those services to persons who are not vulnerable persons.
6. Work as a driver of a public service vehicle which is being used only for the purpose of conveying vulnerable persons.
7. Any work or activity as a minister or priest or any other person engaged in the advancement of any religious beliefs.
8. The provision by a person, whether or not for commercial or other consideration, of accommodation for a vulnerable person in his or her own home.
9. Any research work or activities (howsoever described) carried out in a university, institute of technology or other establishment at which third level education is provided where a necessary and regular part of the research work or activity involves contact with or access to vulnerable persons.
10. Any assessment of a person’s suitability to act as a care representative under section 21 of the Nursing Homes Support Scheme Act 2009.
11. Any application by a person to carry on or manage a designated 10 centre both within the meaning of section 2 of the Health Act 2007.
12. Any work or activity which is carried on by a person, a necessary and regular part of which requires the person to have access to, or contact with, vulnerable persons pursuant to the following enactments:
a. Medical Practice Act 2007;
b. Nurses Act 1985;
c. Nurses and Midwives Act 2011;
d. Dentists Act 1985;
e. Health and Social Care Professionals Act 2005;
f. Pharmacy Act 2007;
g. Pre-Hospital Emergency Care Council (Establishment) Order 2000 (S.I. No. 109 of 2000);
h. Pre-Hospital Emergency Care Council (Establishment) Order 2000 (Amendment) Order 2004 (S.I. No. 575 of 2004).