Thursday, 29 November 2018
Ceisteanna Eile - Other Questions
Closed-Circuit Television Systems
18. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality if secondary legislation is necessary to resolve the difficulties regarding data control and storage for community CCTV schemes; and if the statutory instrument will be put in place, if needed. [49584/18]
This question is on the community CCTV scheme which is a very important issue. As the Minister will know, many community groups want to put them in place. In Laois and Offaly, communities located close to the motorway are affected by crime due to their proximity to it. Community groups have raised money voluntarily. Grants are available to erect CCTV, which are very welcome, but, unfortunately, they cannot be drawn down because of the problem of who controls the data. Is it the Garda Síochána or is it the local authority? It came up at the last joint policing committee in Laois and I was asked to raise it with the Minister in the Dáil, which I am doing this morning.
The Deputy will be aware that community CCTV is governed by section 38(3)(c) of the Garda Síochána Act 2005 and the Garda Síochána (CCTV) Order of 2006. The legal framework requires that any proposed community CCTV scheme must conform to three conditions, namely, be approved by the local joint policing committee, JPC, and I acknowledge Deputy Stanley's attendance at a recent JPC in my constituency from which I received a report; have the authorisation of the Garda Commissioner, which I understand is forthcoming in most cases on the basis of local advice; and have the support of the relevant local authority, which must under law 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 being set up. In accordance with this legal framework, I understand the majority of local authorities have previously undertaken to act as data controllers in the context of specific community CCTV schemes. This is the case in the current grant aid scheme, as administered by my Department, and in the previous grant aid scheme operated by Pobal on behalf of the Department of Justice and Equality. 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 across the country.
The Deputy may also wish to know, as confirmed by the Data Protection Commissioner’s office as recently as May of this year, that the Data Protection Commissioner does not have any concerns about the legislative basis for CCTV.
However, the office 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 engaging on an ongoing basis with the Local Government Management Agency and the County and City Management Association to clarify queries regarding the scheme and to offer assistance to resolve concerns.
To date, there have been 27 applications to the scheme. Twenty applications have been approved for grants totalling more than €500,000. A further four applications to the scheme are currently being assessed and considered.