Written answers

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Department of Justice and Equality

Closed-Circuit Television Systems Provision

Photo of Séamus HealySéamus Healy (Tipperary, Workers and Unemployed Action Group)
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224. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the position regarding the difficulty in identifying an agency to monitor community CCTV systems; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50256/18]

Photo of Seán FlemingSeán Fleming (Laois, Fianna Fail)
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225. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the amount of funding provided each year to each local authority to enable it to carry out its responsibilities as data controllers for community CCTV schemes; the expected amount of funding to be provided to local authorities to carry out this work in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50683/18]

Photo of Seán FlemingSeán Fleming (Laois, Fianna Fail)
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256. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the situation regarding the person or body authorised to act as data controller for town and rural-based CCTV systems, respectively; the progress on having the relevant data controllers in place by county in respect of each of these schemes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50757/18]

Photo of Charles FlanaganCharles Flanagan (Laois, Fine Gael)
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I propose to take Questions Nos. 224, 225 and 256 together.

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 how they are funded.

Accordingly, 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 further wish to be aware 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 on 29 November this year the Data Protection Commissioner’s Office issued a note (available on its website www.dataprotection.ie) confirming that there is a legal basis for community based CCTV and that the General Data Protection Regulation does not introduce new barriers in that regard. In particular, the Office in its note confirmed that: “Data protection legislation does not stand in the way of the roll-out of Community based CCTV schemes that have been authorised by the Garda Commissioner. Once the local authority in the administrative area concerned is willing to take on and deliver on its responsibilities as a data controller for the schemes concerned, there is no legal impediment under data protection legislation to the scheme commencing.”

In relation to the question of monitoring, as raised by the Deputy, the Data Protection Commission has explicitly confirmed that local authorities are not required, as a result of their role as data controller, to monitor CCTV live feeds on a continuous basis.

The Data Protection Commission is currently conducting an audit of the practice, operation and governance of CCTV as part of a wider inquiry into surveillance through the use of technologies forlaw enforcement purposes. We expect the findings from the CCTV module of 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, in relation to the question of funding: my Department does not provide funding to Local Authorities to undertake their legal responsibilities as data controllers. Local Authorities expenditure is funded from a variety of sources.

However 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. In total, funding of €1 million is available each year for three years. 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.

Funding provided by my Department under this grant aid scheme has been aimed at the capital cost of establishing community CCTV schemes which meet the statutory requirements. Local authorities are not prohibited from applying for these grants and indeed a number of local authorities have been approved for funding under the current scheme.

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, have the opportunity to take advantage of the availability of this grant aid scheme. If the Deputy is aware of groups wishing to avail of the scheme, details of the grant aid package are available to download from my Department's website - www.justice.ieand support and guidance is available to help interested groups to apply for this funding through a dedicated email address communitycctv@justice.ie

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