357. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if she will consider the use of security cameras for strategic locations in rural communities that are must-pass areas for criminals targeting isolated areas in locations (details supplied), meaning a handful of cameras could provide added security to thousands of persons; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43034/15]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Section 38 of the Garda Síochána Act, 2005 lays down the conditions governing the operation of CCTV schemes in public areas. This includes the need for all such CCTV schemes to be authorised in writing by the Garda Commissioner. CCTV systems installed for the purposes of crime prevention, and as aids to policing in areas to which the general public routinely have access such as town centres, fall into two categories: Garda CCTV systems and community-based CCTV systems.
Garda CCTV systems are planned and implemented on the basis of the identified operational needs and priorities of An Garda Síochána. Accordingly, decisions in relation to the introduction or extension of such systems are a matter for the Garda Commissioner. The Garda authorities inform me that they keep the current Garda CCTV arrangements under ongoing review in the context of changing operational requirements.
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. With this in mind, I have instigated a review of the effectiveness of the Community CCTV Scheme in conjunction with the Garda authorities. The outcome of that review will inform future decisions on the continuation of the Scheme. The Deputy may also be aware that my colleague, the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government, has recently made an announcement in relation the provision of CCTV in rural areas, which is to be funded from the Rural Development Programme 2014-2020.
The Government is committed to ensuring that An Garda Síochána has the resources to deliver highly-mobile and responsive Garda patrols in both rural and urban communities. The 2016 Budget allocation of €1.5 billion for An Garda Síochána includes over €67 million in additional funding which will allow the recruitment of 600 new Gardaí next year on top of the 550 Gardaí recruited since this Government reopened the Garda College in September 2014. It will also provide additional funding for Garda Surveillance, special operations and targeted, intelligence-led policing. This additional recruitment and budget allocation builds on the current high level of investment in Garda vehicles. We have invested over €34 million in new Garda vehicles since 2012 with over 640 new vehicles coming on stream in 2015, ranging from more Garda patrol cars to high-powered vehicles for armed units. The Government's Capital Plan 2016-2021 provides for a further €46 million of investment in vehicles as well as an additional €200 million for Information and Communications Technology which will allow An Garda Síochána to deploy the latest cutting edge technologies in the fight against crime. We are also investing in airborne surveillance. Taken together, this step-change in investment in policing will ensure that the Gardaí can be mobile, visible and responsive, on the roads and in the community.