Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Justice and Equality Jim O’Callaghan TD says the debate on the future of community based CCTV schemes must take on board their success to date in helping deter crime, particularly in rural areas.

The Community Based CCTV Scheme provides financial assistance to community organisations towards the capital costs associated with establishing a local based CCTV system.

Deputy O’Callaghan said, “Community CCTV schemes have been a game changer in helping prevent crime. The scheme has received positive feedback from the communities that have been afforded the opportunity to make use of it to date. Senior Gardaí have also outlined how CCTV schemes have aided policing and helped tackle roaming burglary gangs.

“The Community CCTV schemes can also make use of Garda Automatic Number Plate Recognition technology. These cameras are linked directly to the local Garda Divisional HQ and allow Gardaí to monitor the movement of criminal gangs suspected of carrying out crime in rural communities.

“There has much been discussion in recent days about the ethical use of community based CCTV systems. The Data Protection Commissioner has confirmed that it will examine the status of these schemes. While it is necessary to ensure that these systems comply with data protection law, it is nonetheless important to maintain some balance in the discussion.

“The Code of Practice governing the scheme commits to ensuring that there is no improper use of CCTV equipment, and that all legal obligations set down in the Data Protection Acts are met. The ANPR system is only monitored from the local Garda Divisional HQ. These stations are open 24 / 7 and always have a Garda presence.

“Detailed consideration was clearly given to ensuring these systems comply with data protection law. While it is important for the Data Protection Commissioner to carry out its function in ensuring these obligations are met, it is also important for commentators not to conflate this into some sort of evidence that wrongdoing is occurring.

“Community based CCTV schemes, the introduction of which was secured by Fianna Fáil under the Confidence and Supply Arrangement, have put criminals on the back foot and have made communities feel safer. It’s important that the rollout of the scheme continues to receive our support,” concluded Deputy O’Callaghan.