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  • Southside

TD calls for Garda body cameras

Thursday, 13th July, 2017 8:00am
TD calls for Garda body cameras
TD calls for Garda body cameras

FIANNA Fáil’s Spokesperson on Justice and Equality, Jim O’Callaghan, has called on the Government to authorise the deployment of body-worn cameras for the gardai.

The Dublin Bay South TD said the technology will offer greater transparency for not only those in front of the camera, but also for those behind it.

“Body-worn cameras are becoming a common feature of policing in other jurisdictions across the world,” Deputy O’Callaghan said.

“There is little doubt that the technology will form a cornerstone of modern policing in the years ahead and Ireland should not fall behind.

“The use of body-worn cameras in the UK has had a positive transformative effect right across the service.

“The cameras have helped bring about speedier justice for victims as people are more likely to plead guilty after they realise their criminal act has been caught on camera.

“It has also led to a drop in fictitious complaints against police officers whilst also making policing more accountable. The technology also helps gather better evidence which can be used to secure justice for victims of crime.

“There has undoubtedly been an erosion in trust between the public and An Garda Síochána in recent years,” Deputy O’Callaghan added.

“The adoption of body-worn technology will help restore confidence in policing in Ireland, and will give police officers comfort in knowing that fictitious complaints can be exposed at an early stage of disciplinary proceedings.

“The Government needs to provide the resources necessary to achieve the rollout of body-worn cameras right across An Garda Síochána. This should be a top priority for Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan.”

There were renewed calls for gardaí to be issued with body cameras in the aftermath of the acquittal of six men accused of falsely imprisoning then-tánaiste Joan Burton and her adviser Karen O’Connell in a car during a water charges protest in Jobstown, Tallaght in 2014.

Gardaí argue that body cameras would protect officers from false accusations of brutality or perjury.

The Garda Representative Association (GRA), which represents rank and file gardaí, repeated calls for body cameras to ensure incidents like the Jobstown protests are properly recorded.

“This creates fairness for all parties, not just the gardaí,” GRA spokesman John O’Keefe said.

“The GRA has repeatedly requested that such body cams be issued to members as part of their standard issue but to no avail.”

A Department of Justice spokesman said that a preliminary procurement process was already underway.

“There is a working group within An Garda Síochána that is currently examining the options available on the market regarding body worn cameras, with a view to developing a business case should their findings meet operational requirements,” it was stated.

Gardaí conducted a pilot project for body cameras  in  2012, when 15 were used as an alternative to the use of handheld camcorders. Five of these are still in use and are deployed during protests and public events.

 

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