06 Jul 2022

Laois CCTV community groups face mounting electricity bills

Laois CCTV community groups face mounting electricity bills

Request made in vain to hand over electricity bills to Laois County Council

Laois community groups and neighbourhood watch schemes are facing mounting electricity bills, with no Government support in their efforts to fight crime.

A request made to Laois County Council for it to take on the electricity bills of the county's CCTV schemes, got a "disappointing" response this month.

Cllr Ollie Clooney had tabled a motion to the May meeting making the request.

In answer, he was advised to go and knock on the Department of Justice's door for the money.

"There is not a uniformity of arrangements across Community CCTV installations.  Many individual cameras are powered directly from individual premises, where it would not be possible to identify electricity costs attributable to CCTV. Given that the Community CCTV programme was initiated by the Department of Justice, it may be more appropriate to seek funding from that source," the council said.

"I am disappointed to hear that reply. There are €5,000 grants but they cannot be downloaded because of the data protection problem, so that answer is a bit untrue.

"The cost to the council would be similar to a streetlamp. These schemes began after a spike in motorway crimes in 2009. All of our cameras are on the public network and all have to be paid for. We have to look at solar power. I am disappointed to hear the reply. The fight is only starting," he said.

Cathaoirleach Cllr Conor Bergin supported his motion.

"The burden is on the group but there are rising energy costs. These cameras use electricity 24 seven constantly, if the council paid the electricity cost it would be some small measure towards supporting them," he said.

Cllr John Joe Fennelly said that the Durrow cameras were utilised in a crime investigation.

"It doesn't sound a whole lot of money. Only last year we were asked to examine footage in Durrow after an incident in Abbeyleix. This is the benefit of these groups," he said.

Cllr James Kelly said that the task of going around annually seeking money to keep schemes going from local people "can be hard to do". He also suggests attaching solar panels to each camera.

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