Laois community left 'sitting ducks' for crime because of row over CCTV data

Conor Ganly

Reporter:

Conor Ganly

Email:

news@leinsterexpress.ie

CCTV

Laois community browned off with row over data

A Laois community believe they are 'sitting ducks' for criminals even though money raised for CCTV cannot be spent because of a row over the images caught on camera.

As a result the group on the Laois Tipperary border want their local TD, who is also the Minister for Justice, to step and and  find a solution to the problem. 

The Donaghmore Community Alert  Committee met recently and decided to make direct representations to Minster Charlie Flanagan regarding the impasse on the Data Controller issue. They say this is preventing local communities from installing community CCTV.

The committee also says the problem is preventing the allocation of the promised grants to help fund what they say is now an essential part of rural community safety. 

"Donaghmore community held a major fundraising event two year ago and raised sufficient funds if topped up the promised Grant to install cameras at all of the entry and exit points in our area. 

"This money is sitting in our account waiting for our application to install the system to be sanctioned.  Being located between the M7 and the M8 makes us sitting ducks for gangs using the motorway network," said a statement issued to the community.

The committee continues to provide text alert messages to our members and pass on any information about suspicious activity in the area. 

Laois County Council says it has a number of problems with taking on the role. Laois chief executive officer John Mulholland has given the council's reasons.

“We’d have serious concerns on the implication for local authorities, firstly over data protection regulations, and secondly the position for our staff who might be called into giving evidence of activities recorded on footage," he said in early 2018.

He wants the Gardaí or an independent company to do the job without the council having to pay.

“It would not be appropriate in my view, for local authority staff to get involved in enforcing law and order," he has said. 

Minister Flanagan has expressed his annoyance with his council's refusal to assume the role of data controller for because he said that 22 of 31 local authorities are doing so.

"It is unfortunate that one local authority, in particular, has taken the view that it should not be the data controller for CCTV schemes in its area...This is not a position adopted by the vast majority of Local Authorities under the old scheme  nor the position of the Local Authorities in relation to schemes approved or to be approved under the new scheme," he said in July.

It is a legal requirement that schemes must have such controllers. A Department of Justice grant scheme covers up to 60% of the total capital cost, up to a maximum grant of €40,000.