Gardaí say they are now carrying out regular checks on organisations working with children and vulnerable people to ensure they are complying with vetting legislation.

A new compliance unit has been established.

It will be contacting and visiting statutory, voluntary and community organisations to ensure they are adhering to their statutory obligations.

The unit is part of the Garda National Vetting Bureau, which says failure to comply can result in prosecution.

There are more than 24,500 such organisations and gardaí say all employees and volunteers must be garda vetted.

The Garda Vetting Conference got under way at Croke Park this morning.

Deputy Garda Commissioner John Twomey said: "Vetting is a core policing function. And that function is the protection of children and vulnerable people.

"As such, vetting can be seen as often the first line of defence in keeping children and vulnerable people safe. That is why we take such care to make sure we get our vetting right.

"In the first instance, the focus of compliance will be to promote best practice amongst relevant organisations, for example, through the facilitation of knowledge sharing amongst relevant organisations where good practice has been established.

"We would all like to work to a situation where such action would not be necessary and today’s conference is in part to help organisations ensure they are meeting the required standard. But where there are significant and repeated failings then investigations will take place and prosecutions may be recommended. That is our responsibility."