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Gardai exposed in court as smartphone usage 'poses threat'

25 Jun 2018 / policing Print

Law lacuna leaves gardaí exposed to illegal filming

Detective Garda Darren Martin believes that gardaí are being put in danger through the unauthorised use of cameras in court.

Writing in December’s Garda Review, Martin, who is also a qualifed barrister, says smartphone cameras are a growing concern for gardaí on protection duty.

Under current legislative provisions, there is no legal basis to direct someone to stop recording. A garda on duty in a courtroom has no legal power to remove a person who is covertly recording court proceedings, without receiving a direction from the judge.

In Britain, cameras have been banned in court going back to the Criminal Justice Act of 1925. That act was amended in 2013 to allow TV broadcasting from the Supreme Court.

The Irish Supreme Court has now followed suit in allowing pilot TV broadcasts. Irish law depends on the inherent jurisdiction of judges’ authority to control court business.

Authorised

A judge can direct that no recordings be made by anyone not authorised by the Courts Service. Anyone in contravention can be found in contempt.

However, this contempt in the face of the court under the Petty Sessions Act of 1851 does not address what happens if audio or pictures are published after the court sitting has concluded, such as on social media.

Proving who has published the material is a separate issue, and some experts believe it may be time to legislate on the matter.

Detective Garda Darren Martin believes that gardaí are being put in danger through the unauthorised use of cameras in court.

Writing in December’s Garda Review,he says smartphone cameras are a growing concern for gardaí on protection duty.

Under current legislative provisions, there is no legal basis to direct someone to stop recording. A garda on duty in a courtroom has no legal power to remove a person who is covertly recording court proceedings, without receiving a direction from the judge.

In Britain, cameras have been banned in court going back to the Criminal Justice Act of 1925. That act was amended in 2013 to allow TV broadcasting from the Supreme Court.

The Irish Supreme Court has now followed suit in allowing pilot TV broadcasts. Irish law depends on the inherent jurisdiction of judges’ authority to control court business.

A judge can direct that no recordings be made by anyone not authorised by the Courts Service. Anyone in contravention can be found in contempt.

Contempt

However, this contempt in the face of the court under the Petty Sessions Act of 1851 does not address what happens if audio or pictures are published after the court sitting has concluded, such as on social media.

Proving who has published the material is a separate issue, and some experts believe it may be time to legislate on the matter.

Gazette Desk
Gazette.ie is the daily legal news site of the Law Society of Ireland