Gardaí call for swift roll-out of body cams for officers as Govt approves plan

The Government has backed plans to provide gardaí with body cams.

The move comes as a review into Public Order Policing in Ireland supported the measure being introduced.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said legislation will now be introduced to allow gardaí to wear body cams.

He said international experience shows the use of body-worn cameras improves frontline capability with the accurate recording of incidents.

New legislation will also be drafted in relation to Garda powers of search, arrest and detention. He said the move will provide much greater clarity.

Earlier, a Garda Inspectorate Report was issued on behalf of the Policing Authority into two public order incidents in Dublin, an anti-water charges protest at An Cosan in Tallaght in 2014 and an eviction on North Frederick Street last year.

GRA President Jim Mulligan said the decision is a win-win for the public and for gardaí.

Mr Mulligan said: “We have been calling for the introduction of body cameras for many years having seen their benefit in other jurisdictions.

“They have been proven to have a positive effect in reducing levels of violence, complaints against police and in providing evidence in the criminal justice system – often speeding up court proceedings.

“These devices are proven to be effective in providing transparency in many aspects of policing, particularly when gardaí are confronted by violent or potentially violent incidents."

“Body cameras give an accurate reflection of all interactions at incidents that police attend. They have a value in de-escalating volatile situations and countering false accounts of interactions with police videoed by others and often posted to social media.

“We are conscious of the human rights implications that arise from using body cameras and expect the legislation will provide for robust protocols to instil public confidence in their use.

“Bodycams also provide an important accountability function for police, providing evidence of officers’ actions that can be of use to suspects and other members of the public if they have a complaint.

“A study of their use in by City of Rialto Police in California found use of force by officers fell 59% and complaints against officers dropped 87% over a 12-month period*.

“We urge Minister Flanagan to bring his legislation before the Oireachtas at the earliest opportunity and for scrutiny of his bill to be swift and cooperative.

“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.

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