Thursday, 8 July 2021
Ceisteanna Eile - Other Questions
Closed-Circuit Television Systems
93. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality her plans for the expansion of Garda CCTV in County Carlow to deter criminal activity; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36767/21]
The roll-out of community CCTV schemes across the country has benefitted many communities, helping people to feel safer in their local areas. It is a priority of mine to ensure that community groups continue to be supported in their valued contributions to their local CCTV schemes while ensuring sufficient, proportionate oversight of statutory data protection considerations.
Since 2017, the Department has administered a grant aid scheme supporting groups wishing to establish a community-based CCTV system in their area. Eligible groups, including community groups and local authorities nationwide, 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. The scheme was extended in 2019 to cover not only new CCTV systems but also to allow funding applications for extension or upgrade of existing community CCTV systems which are incomplete or obsolete. Applicants can now also seek a once-off grant of up to €5,000 for minor maintenance costs. The scheme is open for applications from all counties. A total of 34 schemes have been funded to date with commitments of almost €940,000 made to these schemes across ten counties and I can confirm that funding continues to be available for 2021.
If the Deputy is aware of groups in County Carlow wishing to avail of the grant aid scheme, further details are available to download from the Department's website, and support and guidance is available to help interested groups through a dedicated email address. The Deputy will be aware that community-based CCTV is governed by the Garda Síochána Act 2005, section 38(3)(c), and the Garda Síochána (CCTV) Order 2006, SI 289 of 2006. This legal framework sets out a number of safeguards, requiring that any proposed community CCTV scheme must: be approved by the local joint policing committee; have the prior support of the relevant local authority, which must also act as data controller; and have the authorisation of the Garda Commissioner.
I thank the Minister of State. I compliment community groups for the excellent work they do. My question related to the extension of CCTV from An Garda Síochána on approach roads coming into Carlow. As the Minister of State will know, Carlow is very well situated. We are close to Dublin and to everywhere and we have a great location. That was the question I wanted answered in particular. When we talk about resources, I want to speak about Carlow Garda station and the work the gardaí there do in the context of staffing and resources. We are short on staff. We have one inspector who has not been replaced. We have four sergeants who have not been replaced and likewise some Garda members. It is so important that the CCTV is there as well but resources for staffing play a huge part in this, in connection with the CCTV. The two should be incorporated together. I understand about the community groups and welcome the work they do. There is great work being done in Carlow, Tullow and other areas.
On the matter of funding being provided to Carlow, since the establishment of the grant aid scheme in 2017, the Department has provided funding to one community CCTV scheme in County Carlow, namely, the scheme at St. Mullin's.
The Deputy's question was in relation to additional Garda CCTV cameras being provided in Carlow. I understand there are currently 14 CCTV cameras in Carlow town centre and three cameras situated in the town park as part of the Garda CCTV system. It is important to note this is a Garda CCTV system and is not part of the community CCTV scheme, as I am sure the Deputy is aware, for which the Department provides grant aid. Any amendments to the Garda CCTV system are operational matters for the Garda Commissioner and are not connected to the community CCTV scheme.
I thank the Minister of State. I highlighted this today for a reason. It is great to see the Minister and Ministers of State all present. They know of the work An Garda Síochána does. I can only speak for County Carlow where we have gardaí who are doing their work and doing their best. When CCTV is requested - and it must be addressed here by the Minister and Ministers of State - all resources come through central government funding and we must be clear on that today. Carlow Garda station is short on gardaí. To make it worse, they have been looking for wheelchair accessibility for years as the station is not accessible. Waterford is now the headquarters. The station in Leighlinbridge was closed down in 2013 and I was told it would reopen in 2016, 2017 and 2018. It is in the programme for Government. The building is owned by the Office of Public Works, OPW. For me to get funding and resources I have to come in here and address the Minister and Ministers of State because it is funding that will come from central government. It is about all Departments and all areas working together to deliver for the people of County Carlow and that is so important to me. I thank the Minister of State.
I thank the Deputy. As I said, these are matters for the Garda Commissioner as they are operational matters. To update the Deputy, as of 31 May 2021 there were 337 gardaí assigned to the Kilkenny-Carlow division. This represents an increase of almost 19% since December 2015 when there were 284 Garda staff members assigned to the division. A detailed breakdown of the Garda workforce is available on the Department's website. As the Deputy will know, An Garda Síochána has been allocated an unprecedented budget of €1.952 billion for 2021. This level of funding is enabling sustained, ongoing Garda recruitment. As a result, the number of Garda members is now approximately 14,500 and there are over 3,000 Garda staff nationwide. Taken together, this increase in the number of Garda members and staff is delivering a significant growth in operational policing hours nationwide.