339. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to commission existing CCTV cameras on motorways for the detection and prevention of crime. [23658/19]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): The resources provided by Government to An Garda Síochána have reached unprecedented levels, with an allocation of €1.76 billion for 2019. Very significant capital investment is also being made, including investment of €342 million in Garda ICT infrastructure between 2016 and 2021; and investment of €46 million in the Garda Fleet over the same period.
As the Deputy will appreciate, in accordance with Section 26 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005 as amended, the Garda Commissioner is responsible for managing and controlling the administration and business of An Garda Síochána. Further, the allocation of Garda resources is a matter for the Commissioner, in light of identified operational demands. I understand however that Garda management keeps the distribution of resources under continual review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities so as to ensure their optimum use.
CCTV systems installed for the purposes of crime prevention and as aids to policing in areas to which the general public routinely have access fall into two distinct but complementary categories, namely Garda CCTV systems and community-based CCTV systems. Neither may be established without authorisation by the Garda Commissioner, among other requirements.
Garda CCTV systems are established and maintained in areas or at locations decided upon by the Garda authorities.
Community based CCTV schemes are governed by section 38(3)(c) of the Garda Síochána Act 2005 and the Garda Síochána (CCTV) Order 2006 (SI No 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.
The Programme for a Partnership Government commits to supporting investment in CCTV systems at key locations along the road network and in urban centres. This commitment is being progressed in a number of ways, including in particular through a grant-aid scheme administered by my Department to support local communities meeting the statutory requirements for community based CCTV and who wish to install systems in their localities, including access roads to their localities where necessary and appropriate.
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. Full details are available to download from my Department's website www.justice.ie and support and guidance is available to help interested groups to apply for this funding through a dedicated email address email@example.com I encourage any interested groups to make contact with my officials for further assistance.
I am informed by the Garda authorities that the majority of the CCTV systems on the motorways are controlled by Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) and operated on their behalf by the Motorway Traffic Control Centre. More generally, the Deputy may wish to be aware that the Programme for a Partnership Government also recognises that Gardaí must have the modern technology and resources necessary to detect and investigate crimes, and to prevent loss and harm to citizens and their property on a 24/7 basis. In support of this commitment, €342 million is being invested in Garda ICT infrastructure between 2016 and 2021 to enable An Garda Síochána to utilise appropriate technologies in delivering professional policing and security services for the community and €46 million is being invested in the Garda fleet over the same period, to ensure that Gardaí can be mobile, visible and responsive on the roads and in the community to prevent and tackle crime.
I can also confirm that Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology is fitted in a number of official Garda vehicles which are allocated around the country and used on a daily basis to assist in the prevention and detection of crime, particularly on our roads network.