Wednesday, 27 January 2021
Department of Justice and Equality
623. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality her plans to introduce body-worn video systems to be worn by the Garda armed support unit in the first instance along with a comprehensive set of rules on body camera usage; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [3620/21]
As the Deputy may be aware, the use of video recording devices, or so called 'body worn cameras', by An Garda Síochána was one of the recommendations made in the report of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland.
The Commission's recommendations were accepted by Government and are currently being implemented through the Government's four-year implementation plan, “A Policing Service for the Future”.
I can inform the Deputy that the deployment of body worn cameras by An Garda Síochána will be provided for in a Garda Síochána (Digital Recording) Bill. The Bill will provide for a Code of Practice that will address:
- The circumstances when it is appropriate to use the cameras and the circumstance when it is not;
- All procedures and standards including confidentiality rules, security of recordings, storage details, access rights, issues around the retention of data, and data subject rights.
It is important to emphasise that this legislation will be an overt policing bill and there will be a requirement that the cameras must be visible on the clothing of the Garda officer.
The Code of Practice will be prepared by the Garda Commissioner who will ensure that a Human Rights Impact Assessment and a Data Protection Impact Assessment are carried out. The Code will then be submitted for Ministerial approval and for inclusion in a Statutory Instrument.
Work on the General Scheme of the Bill is well progressed within my Department and I hope to be able to bring it to Government shortly for approval to draft the Bill and to publish the Scheme.
It should be noted that the deployment of body worn cameras envisaged in the Commission's report would not be limited solely to specialist units such as the Armed Support Unit. The Bill allows for this organisation-wide deployment as determined by the operational needs of An Garda Síochána, which would be a matter for the Commissioner.