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Question

51. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he has given consideration to ring-fencing unspent funding from community CCTV to establishing Garda CCTV cameras on the bridge in Portumna, Banagher bridge and Shannon bridge and Ballina, County Tipperary, in view of the fact that these bridges are a route for organised crime (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51682/17]

Answer

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): The Deputy will be aware that the Programme for a Partnership Government commits to supporting investment in CCTV systems and, in this context, my Department launched the Community-based CCTV Grant-aid Scheme in April 2017, as the vehicle to assist community groups in the establishment of CCTV systems in their local areas.
Under the Scheme, eligible community groups can apply for grant-aid of up to 60% of the total capital cost of a proposed CCTV system, up to a maximum grant of €40,000. Upon approval of the grant, the applicant will receive an up-front payment of 50% of the grant with the balance to be paid when the system is fully operational. Some €1 million was secured in Budget 2017 for the purposes of the Scheme and a similar amount will be made available in 2018 and 2019.
Unfortunately, the number of applications received to date is well below expectations. In relation to the specific locations referred to by the Deputy, I will be happy to consider any applications made in respect of them.
Full details of the Scheme, including guidelines, application forms, code of practice and other relevant documentation are available to download from my Department's website - www.justice.ie.
Guidance is available to help local groups to apply for this important funding and I am keen to ensure that groups take full advantage of the availability of this funding.
I am very conscious of the value that communities, especially rural communities, place on CCTV as a means of deterring crime and assisting in the detection of offenders.
The Garda authorities inform me that there are Garda CCTV schemes in operation in some 27 towns throughout the State comprising of approx. 523 cameras. There are also some 45 Community-based CCTV schemes, established under the previous grant-aid scheme funded by my Department between 2005 and 2013, in operation encompassing some 367 cameras to which An Garda Síochána have access.
Under the Commissioner's Modernisation and Renewal Programme, the intention is to use CCTV in new ways utilising modern technology and to expand the use of ANPR technology to allow for wider access and analysis, to identify key criminal and terrorist targets and to enhance community safety.
I would also mention in the context of supporting local communities that I recently announced that an additional €100,000 was being made available to Text Alert Groups, registered with An Garda Síochána, to provide modest financial assistance with the running costs they incur each year. This Text Alert Rebate Scheme will be administered by Muintir na Tíre and Groups wishing to participate in the Scheme can find more details at www.muintir.ie. Gardaí continue to pursue a range of measures to support elderly and more vulnerable people in the community, working closely with Community Alert, Neighbourhood Watch and other community groups.