101. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Justice her plans for the expansion of CCTV to deter criminal activity; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36576/21]
Minister for Justice (Deputy Heather Humphreys): The rollout of community CCTV schemes across the country has benefitted many communities, helping people to feel safer in their local areas. It is a priority of mine to ensure that community groups continue to be supported in their valued contributions to managing their local CCTV schemes whilst ensuring sufficient, proportionate oversight of statutory data protection obligations.
Since 2017, my Department has administered a grant aid scheme supporting groups wishing to establish a community-based CCTV system in their area. Eligible groups, including community groups and local authorities nationwide, can apply for grant aid of up to 60% of the total capital cost of a proposed CCTV system, up to a maximum total of €40,000.
The scheme was extended in 2019 to cover not only new CCTV systems but also to allow funding applications for extension or upgrade of existing community CCTV systems which are incomplete or obsolete. Applicants can now also seek a once-off grant of up to €5,000 for minor maintenance costs.
34 schemes have been funded to date with commitments of almost €940,000 made to these schemes across 10 counties and I am happy to confirm that funding continues to be available for 2021. If the Deputy is aware of any groups wishing to avail of the grant aid scheme, further details are available to download from my Department's website and support and guidance is available to help interested groups through a dedicated email address.
The Deputy will be aware that community-based CCTV is governed by the Garda Síochána Act 2005 (Section 38(3) (c)) and the Garda Síochána (CCTV) Order 2006 (SI 289 of 2006). This legal framework requires that any proposed community CCTV scheme must:
- be approved by the local Joint Policing Committee,
- have the prior support of the relevant local authority, which must also act as data controller, and
- have the authorisation of the Garda Commissioner.
This is the legal basis for all community CCTV schemes, regardless of how they are funded. These key legal requirements are in place since 2006.
As the Deputy will be aware, the general scheme of the Garda Síochána (Digital Recordings) Bill was published on 27 April. It is planned to have a further review of the terms and conditions of the current scheme to bring it into line with the proposals for this new legislation, and in keeping with the commitment in the Programme for Government. Once this review is completed, appropriate guidance will issue to An Garda Síochána on the control and supervision of CCTV systems. When enacted, this legislation will replace Section 38 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005.