Tuesday 12 November 2019

Flanagan defends body camera plan

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan. Photo: Justin Farrelly
Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan. Photo: Justin Farrelly
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan has called the Irish Council for Civil Liberties' (ICCL) criticisms of his plans to introduce body cameras for gardai "premature and misguided".

The civil liberties group said introducing body cameras would be "invasive and unnecessary" and a breach privacy rights.

However, Mr Flanagan has hit back, insisting the new cameras, which will be fitted to uniforms, will protect gardai and the public.

"The intervention of the ICCL in the body camera debate, while welcome, is premature and misguided for a number of reasons," Mr Flanagan told the Sunday Independent.

Please log in or register with Independent.ie for free access to this article.

Log In

"Any proposals I bring to Government will be fully in accordance with the law and privacy, and GDPR will be of course central to the legislation," he added.

The minister said there are "huge positives" to equipping gardai with body cameras, including quicker trials and fewer complaints against gardai.

He said the introduction of police body cameras in Scotland resulted in a 40pc increase in guilty pleas during court trials. Mr Flanagan said if similar were to happen in Ireland it would help alleviate some of the backlog in the court system.

"Body cameras will also help victims of crime, it will help witnesses to crime, be it a road traffic accident or a domestic violence issue or any other crime," he added.

The Garda Representative Association (GRA) has called for the introduction of body cameras for their members.

The Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland also recommended significantly upgrading the technology gardai use to fight crime and specifically said they should have body cameras.

The ICCL said there was "no appropriate justification for their obvious intrusion on our privacy" from the introduction of body cameras.

"Mass surveillance of the population is extremely problematic. ICCL believes that the infringements to fundamental rights far outweigh the supposed benefits of this technology," the group said.

The group also said body cameras might discourage people from protesting because they would be filmed by gardai.

Sunday Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News