37. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he has considered the installation of CCTV cameras at motorway junctions to help act against rural crime; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12008/19]
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. These resources are being provided in support of the Government's commitment to ensuring a strong and visible police presence throughout the country to maintain and strengthen community engagement, provide reassurance to citizens and deter crime.
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 the availability of resources and identified operational demands. As Minister, I have no direct role in that matter. 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.
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 the community CCTV grant-aid scheme administered by my Department.
I would recall 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 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 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 how they are funded.
A grant aid scheme is being 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 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. I encourage any interested groups to make contact with my officials for further assistance.
More generally, the Deputy will 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. A significant capital investment is also being made in the Garda fleet, amounting to €46 million between 2016 and 2021, to ensure that An Garda Síochána has a modern, effective and fit-for-purpose fleet and that Gardaí can be mobile, visible and responsive on the roads and in the community to prevent and tackle crime.
For example and as the Deputy may be aware, 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.
The 2019 capital allocation for Garda ICT amounts to more than €61million and the allocation to the Garda fleet this year is a total of €10 million. The distribution of these resources, including the ICT projects and programmes to be prioritised and the allocation of Garda vehicles across the Divisions throughout 2019 are a matter for the Garda authorities.