133. Deputy Jennifer Murnane O'Connor asked the Minister for Justice her plans for the expansion of Garda CCTV in County Carlow in order to deter criminal activity; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [58038/21]
Minister of State at the Department of Justice (Deputy James Browne): As the Deputy may be aware, under the Garda Síochána Act 2005, the Garda Commissioner is responsible for managing and controlling generally the administration, budget and business of An Garda Síochána, which includes responsibility for Garda CCTV. As Minister, I have no direct role in this matter.
The Commissioner authorises CCTV for the purposes of securing public order and safety in public places by facilitating the deterrence, prevention, detection and prosecution of offences under Section 38 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005.
Section 38 (a) provides for Garda CCTV schemes operated by An Garda Síochána. I am informed by the Garda authorities that a total of 43 Garda schemes, covering over 700 locations, have received authorisation for operation around the country. I am further informed that, while there are no plans at this time to expand the current Garda CCTV schemes, the schemes are being reviewed by the Garda National Community Engagement Bureau (GNCEB).
In addition to schemes operated by the Gardaí, section 38 (c) provides for community CCTV schemes in collaboration between local authorities/community groups and An Garda Síochána. As the Deputy may be aware, my Department also provides grant aid for the establishment of such schemes and there are currently 34 community CCTV schemes in place nationally.
Grant funding can be considered only for community CCTV systems which meet the legal obligations and requirements. In other words, CCTV systems which have been approved by the relevant Joint Policing Committee and local authority (also acting as data controller), and which have received the authorisation of the Garda Commissioner.
Since the establishment of the current scheme in 2017, my Department has provided funding to St Mullins community CCTV scheme in Co. Carlow. In August 2021, my Department also provided maintenance grant funding to the Develop Tullow group.
If the Deputy is aware of further groups wishing to avail of the grant aid scheme, further details are available to download from my Department's website. Support and guidance is also available through a dedicated email address to help interested groups.
As the Deputy will be aware, the general scheme of the Garda Síochána (Digital Recordings) Bill was published on 27 April. When enacted, this legislation will replace Section 38 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005. This bill will also cover CCTV authorised in local communities by the Garda Commissioner. I intend to conduct a further review of the terms and conditions of the current community CCTV 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 community CCTV systems. Question No. 134 answered with Question No. 129.