The Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan’s proposals to allow gardaí to use body cameras has received approval, following a Cabinet meeting on 25 June. The minister anticipated that the move would increase public trust in the gardaí.
Speaking to the media yesterday, Minister Flanagan said: “The evidence available suggests that [body cameras] can greatly improve police frontline capability, with accurate recording of incidents.”
“They provide a contemporaneous evidence-capture, and a clear, unambiguous record of particular events and interactions, such as at public order protests,” he said.
Current legislation to be repealed
Under current legislation, CCTV may be authorised at fixed sites for the purpose of securing public order and safety in public places. Minister Flanagan proposes repealing this provision and replacing it with new powers that would allow offenders to be monitored while on the move.
The minister said that the legislation would also provide a legal basis for the extension of the circumstances under which automatic number-plate recognition devices may be used by the gardai.
The constitutional right to privacy and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) will be considered during the drafting process.
The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission and the Data Protection Commission will also be consulted.
A ‘win-win’ for the GRA
The Garda Representative Association (GRA) is supportive and welcomed the proposal, saying that body cameras would not only improve transparency, but also cut down on the number of assaults on gardaí and help in the collection of evidence.
Body cameras have become a feature of policing in other jurisdictions. The use of body cameras in Britain has greatly reduced the number of complaints against the police force there.
Speaking to RTÉ News, GRA President Jim Mulligan said: “The roll-out of bodycams by police forces around the world and the evidence of their use to date clearly points to them being a ‘win-win’ for everyone concerned about public safety, swifter justice and accountable policing.”
The Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland recommended that body cameras should be used by gardaí.
It is understood that a draft bill will be made available before the end of the year.