Government to sign off on gardai body cam legislation

Government to sign off on gardai body cam legislation

The Government is to sign off on the roll-out of Garda body cameras tomorrow.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan will seek Cabinet approval to draft new legislation to provide a legal basis for the use of body-worn cameras by Gardaí.

Garda commissioner Drew Harris had previously suggested that body cams might be ruled out on the basis of cost.

Appearing before the Public Accounts Committee last month, Mr Harris said Gardaí may be ordered to use smartphones to record incidents with the public as a cut-price alternative to hi-tech body cameras because of cost and information storage concerns.

However, it appears the Government have now decided against this and will press ahead with introducing body cams in line with best practice.

Mr Flanagan will also ask Cabinet to allow Gardaí to make greater use of CCTV and Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR).

The law currently covers CCTV/ANPR at fixed sites. However, the Minister wants to extend this to mobile sites.

The proposal for body-worn cameras is part of the implementation of the report of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland.

Body-worn cameras have increasingly become a feature of policing and have proven valuable in other jurisdictions in terms of gathering evidence and providing police with their own recordings of situations.

The Constitutional Right to Privacy and the European Convention on Human Rights will be considered as part of the draft process and the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission will be consulted. The Data Protection Commission will also be asked to advise on data protection issues.

The proposed legislative changes are part of an overall Government plan to ensure An Garda Síochána is among the best modern police forces in the world.

Intensive work is taking place in the Department of Justice to prepare a full draft bill before the end of the year.

Separately, Health Minister Simon Harris will seek Government approval to join a new initiative aimed at improving access to new medicines and also bringing down the costs.

Every year, the State spends in excess of €2 billion on medicines and associated costs.

Mr Minister will seek permission to join a new alliance on horizon scanning which will aim to identify and prioritise all pharmaceutical products in development to advance the accessing of new medicines.

Ireland will join Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, Canada and Lithuania which will all take part in the initiative.

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