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Question

25. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of CCTV schemes that have been approved for funding since the scheme commenced; if all local authorities are now signed up to the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49791/18]

31. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the progress made to date to resolve the issues regarding data control and storage for community CCTV schemes. [49583/18]

50. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will discuss the most recent developments in relation to community CCTV schemes. [49716/18]

Answer

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): I propose to take Questions Nos. 25, 31 and 50 together.
The Deputy will be aware that 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 distinct but complementary categories, namely Garda CCTV systems and community-based CCTV systems. Neither type of CCTV system may be established without authorisation by the Garda Commissioner under section 38 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005, among other requirements.
Community CCTV is 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 authorisation of the Garda Commissioner, and
- have the prior support of the relevant local authority, which must also act as data controller.
This is the legal basis for all community CCTV schemes, regardless of whether or not grant funding is sought from my Department to assist in their establishment. The legal requirement for local authorities to act as data controller for the purpose of community CCTV schemes has been in place since 2006.
The Deputy may wish to note that under the 2005 Act, as amended, the relevant secondary legislation is not a matter for me as Minister for Justice and Equality. Rather, the power to establish the criteria for community CCTV schemes is a matter for the Policing Authority, by order made with the approval of the Government.
In accordance with this legal framework, I understand that the large majority of local authorities have previously undertaken to act as data controllers in the context of specific community CCTV schemes. This has been the case either in the course of the current grant-aid scheme administered by my Department, in connection with the previous grant-aid scheme operated by Pobal on behalf of the Department, or in connection with schemes funded independently by local authorities. I understand from my Department's engagement with the Local Government Management Agency that the total number of local authorities which have undertaken the role of data controller for these purposes amounts to 28 out of the 31 local authorities nationwide.
The Deputy may also wish to be aware that the Data Protection Commissioner’s Office has confirmed as recently as May of this year that it does not have any concerns on the legislative basis for CCTV. However it is currently conducting an audit of the practice, operation and governance of CCTV. We expect findings from this process to be of assistance to all concerned and in particular to local authorities. My Department is also engaging on an ongoing basis with the Local Government Management Agency and the County and City Management Association, to clarify any queries arising and to assist in resolving any concerns.
Finally, the Deputy will be aware that the Programme for a Partnership Government commits to supporting investment in CCTV systems. In furtherance of this commitment, a grant-aid scheme to assist groups in the establishment of community-based CCTV systems in their local areas is being administered by my Department. Eligible groups, including community groups and local authorities, 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.
There have to date been 27 applications to the scheme. 20 applications have been approved for grants totalling more than €500,000. A further 4 applications to the scheme are currently being assessed and considered. The remaining 3 applications have been returned to the applicants concerned to enable them to supply the information necessary to qualify for grant aid.
I am keen to ensure that all interested groups, in both rural and urban areas, take advantage of the availability of this grant aid scheme. If the Deputy is aware of groups wishing to avail of the scheme, I would point out that full details of the grant aid package 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 communitycctv@justice.ie.