Thursday 18 July 2019

Gardaí to get body cameras to help police protests and events

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Stock picture

Hugh O'Connell

Gardaí are to be allowed to wear body cameras to help them police protests and public events, under plans to be approved by ministers today.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan will seek cabinet sign-off this morning on a proposal to draft new laws that will allow gardaí to wear the body-worn cameras.

Rank-and-file members of the force have long called for the introduction of such technology as a way of providing better evidence in court and protection for gardaí on duty.

Mr Flanagan will also ask ministers to approve proposals to use mobile CCTV and automatic number-plate recognition (ANPR) to secure public order and safety in public places.

At present, the law only covers the use of CCTV and ANPR at fixed locations. The proposal for body-worn cameras was part of a number of recommendations from the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland, which reported last year.

The devices have increasingly become a feature of policing in other jurisdictions but their roll-out is likely to raise concerns among civil liberties groups. Mr Flanagan will insist today that the constitutional right to privacy and the European Convention on Human Rights will be considered as part of the draft process and the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission will be consulted in drawing up the measures.

The Data Protection Commission will also be asked to advise on any data protection issues arising out the introduction of such devices.

Department of Justice officials hope to have a draft of the legislation needed to introduce such cameras before the end of the year.

Irish Independent

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