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Gardaí trawl CCTV to find source of M50 crash video

  • Investigators examining CCTV to see if anyone was stopping at the scene unnecessarily
  • Outcry after distressing imagery of the immediate aftermath of the crash, which claimed the life of Jackie Griffin, were circulated on social media
  • Gardai and friends and family of the victim have appealed to the public to refrain from sharing the images

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Stock image of the M50

Stock image of the M50

Stock image of the M50

Gardaí are investigating whether drivers took photos or videos of the horrific crash on the M50 while they were behind the wheel.

Investigators are also examining CCTV to see if anyone was stopping at the scene unnecessarily.

There has been outcry after distressing imagery of the immediate aftermath of the crash, which claimed the life of Jackie Griffin, was circulated on social media.

A garda spokesman said that traffic was backed up at the scene for hours with many people taking pictures. Prosecutions would be possible for drivers who were holding phones at the wheel. It is an offence to use your phone while driving.

Gardaí believe that in the early stages after the crash, a number of people may have recorded video at the scene.

It is also believed that people may have left their vehicles to take images, even though it is illegal to stop a car on a motorway other than in an emergency.

"We are checking in relation to vehicles that may have stopped on the M50 unnecessarily when Gardaí were dealing with the crash. Please be advised that motorists are permitted to stop on the M50 in an emergency only," a spokesperson told Independent.ie.

"We will be checking in relation to any motorists who may have been driving their vehicle past the scene and holding a phone and filming, or taking photographs of the scene," it added.

Gardai have again appealed to the public to refrain from sharing the images asking people to “be conscious that it affects family and friends of the deceased and all persons involved in the collision”.

There is precedent for this type of behaviour being investigated by gardai. Last year a truck overturned on the M50 and around 20 people who drove past were discovered to have filmed the scene. They were later identified and issued fixed charge penalty notices, as well as penalty points.

However it is not believed that the circulation of the images in itself is a criminal offence.

Responsibility

It comes after AA Roadwatch's Conor Faughnan said today that the country's laws should be updated to reflect the latest technology.

The well-known road safety and traffic expert said Ireland's laws need to urgently catch up.

"There is an element of social responsibility, but when it comes to taking photos while rubbernecking, upskirting and drones over garden hedges, we need to update our laws," he said.

"Our law is currently blind to this. Everyone can morally accept what happened yesterday was wrong, but in Ireland we're behind the curve. Our laws are not keeping up."

He continued; "Within minutes photos were being shared. The genie was out of the bottle. It went viral from people sharing it amongst themselves. It's very distressing and on reflection, I'm sure most reasonable people can agree that anyone who shared this image committed an offence against common decency and taste.

"It's the bystander effect and people will behave like that. It's something in society. We need to learn how to use this new technology.

"Just because you can see something, doesn't mean you should share it," he continued.

"We should have laws, there are things we can do to control this behaviour.

"We need our laws to catch up with our technology, it's running far ahead."

Mr Faughnan said he is sure everyone involved is now "reflecting 24 hours later".

Psyche

"What is it in the human psyche that allows people to do this?" he asked.

"We all agree it's unacceptable. It is particularly gruesome and can cause enormous upset to the family, our deepest sympathies go to this woman's family and friends."

Fine Gael TD Colm Brophy has also called for regulations to prevent content like this being shared online.

"This week alone, family and friends who have to come to terms with the loss of a loved one should not have to hear that voyeurs are sending images through WhatsApp.

"We must have modern rules and regulations for social media that respect human decency and the privacy of other individuals. If traditional media can abide by this and have socially accepted boundaries in which they operate while still providing all with a public service, social media companies must also.

"They are publishers and have to be responsible as do those who use their products and services," the Dublin South-West

The Dublin TD said that Whatsapp, which is owned by Facebook, should start using technology to root out offensive and inappropriate images and messages before they’re reported.

"Yes I do," he told Independent.ie.

"Basically what it comes down to is that if the companies aren’t willing to do this, there’s a need to look at a regulatory framework on a national or an EU level. But it’s difficult to accept anymore that the companies cannot build in the necessary safeguards against the widespread dissemination of such images. Are we prepared as a society to accept it?"

Encryption

The TD also said that there may be a case for encryption between private messages to be suspended to allow companies like Facebook prevent the resending of fake news or shocking imagery.

"This is what we need to start thinking of as a society," he said. "I think we need to look at the pros and cons. While there has to be a right for people to distribute information, there also has to be some type of regulation or consequences around it."

Whatsapp’s encryption prevents hackers from accessing the content of messages. It also prevents the company or authorities from monitoring content.

"Whatsapp should have made a quick decision to find a way of stopping the sending of such images," he said.

"I also think that the company needs to look at the accounts of people sending images like that. People should be told when they sign up that if they disseminate such material that their accounts will be frozen."

Mr Brophy was speaking just says after Whatsapp introduced new rules limiting the number of chats that a Whatsapp user can forward a message or photo to.

"All users on the latest versions of WhatsApp can now forward to only five chats at once, which will help keep WhatsApp focused on private messaging with close contacts," said the company in a statment.

"We’ll continue to listen to user feedback about their experience, and over time, look for new ways of addressing viral content."

The company has introduced the rule following widespread reports of violence in India, Mexico and other countries linked to content passed on through mass-messaging on Whatsapp.

A spokesperson for Facebook was not immediately available to comment.

Online Editors