Thursday 18 July 2019

New laws being drafted to pave way for gardai to wear bodycams

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan announced he had been given the go-ahead by colleagues in a Cabinet meeting.

It is hoped the move will help modernise the Garda (Niall Carson/PA)
It is hoped the move will help modernise the Garda (Niall Carson/PA)

By Aoife Moore, Press Association

Draft legislation providing the legal basis for Garda officers to wear bodycams has been approved by Cabinet.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan announced on Tuesday that he had been given the go-ahead by colleagues in a Cabinet meeting.

It is hoped the move will help modernise the Garda.

Mr Flanagan’s proposals are to extend the circumstances in which recording devices, including body-worn cameras, can be used by An Garda Siochana and codify police powers of search, arrest and detention.

The two pieces of legislation were key recommendations of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland, from September 2018.

We have been calling for the introduction of body cameras for many years, having seen their benefit in other jurisdictions Jim Mulligan, Garda Representative Association

Mr Flanagan said he was delighted that the Government had approved the preparation of the legislation.

“The commission set out a clear vision for policing in Ireland, a vision that will ensure we have more visible policing within our communities, with the best possible resources in place to support, protect and keep all our people safe,” he said.

“We will continue to support An Garda Siochana in progressing a number of crucial actions in the months ahead, including further workforce modernisation, a review of discipline processes within An Garda Siochana and delivery of a new pilot local policing model.”

Garda Representative Association president Jim Mulligan has described the use of police bodycams as a win-win for the public and officers.

“We have been calling for the introduction of body cameras for many years, having seen their benefit in other jurisdictions,” he said.

“They have been proven to have a positive effect in reducing levels of violence, complaints against police and in providing evidence in the criminal justice system – often speeding up court proceedings.

“These devices are proven to be effective in providing transparency in many aspects of policing, particularly when gardai are confronted by violent or potentially violent incidents.

“Body cameras give an accurate reflection of all interactions at incidents that police attend.

“They have a value in de-escalating volatile situations and countering false accounts of interactions with police videoed by others and often posted to social media.

“Bodycams also provide an important accountability function for police, providing evidence of officers’ actions that can be of use to suspects and other members of the public if they have a complaint.

“A study of their use by city of Rialto police in California found use of force by officers fell 59% and complaints against officers dropped 87% over a 12-month period.

“We urge Minister Flanagan to bring his legislation before the Oireachtas at the earliest opportunity and for scrutiny of his bill to be swift and co-operative.”

It has been estimated the cost to the state to fit members of the force with the recording equipment could be up to 80 million euro.

PA Media

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Also in this section