Only six local areas apply for CCTV funding

The Government has received just six applications for funding from communities who want to install a CCTV scheme in their local area, despite €3m being set aside to fund the cameras.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan admitted the number of applications received to date is “well below expectations”.

In April, his department launched the community-based CCTV grant aid scheme to help community groups establish a network of security cameras in their areas.

Under the scheme, eligible community groups could apply for grant-aid of up to 60% of the total capital cost of a proposed CCTV system, up to a maximum grant of €40,000.

Upon approval of the grant, the applicant would then receive an upfront payment of 50% of the grant with the balance to be paid when the system was fully operational.

There was €1m secured for it in Budget 2017 and, according to Mr Flanagan, “it is envisaged that a similar amount will be made available in 2018 and 2019”.

Applicants must have the prior support of the relevant Local Authority, which must also act as data controller, and must have authorisation from the Garda Commissioner.

The scheme is based on the previous grant-aid scheme operated by Pobal on behalf of the Department between 2005 and 2013 under which 45 Community CCTV systems were established in urban and rural areas.

“Unfortunately, the number of applications received to date is well below expectations,” said Mr Flanagan.

“Six applications have been received, in addition to a significant number of enquiries about the scheme.

“As these applications were incomplete, they were returned to the applicants concerned to enable them to provide the information necessary to qualify for grant-aid.”

Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Jim O’Callaghan said the fact that only six applications were received for the CCTV scheme revealed that the method of crime prevention was being underutilised.

“The Government needs to recognise that the scheme needs to be part and parcel of An Garda Síochána’s fight against crime,” he said.

“The process for CCTV is too cumbersome and complex. That probably explains why so few applications have been made.”

Earlier this week, it emerged the Office of the Data Commissioner was in contact with gardaí about the community CCTV schemes, particularly in relation to the approval status of some of them as well as councils’ failure to act as data controllers for them.

Cork city councillor Kenneth O’Flynn said: “Not only does the presence of a CCTV system deter criminal activity, the CCTV can often prove valuable in providing evidence for gardaí.

The commentary days concerning data protection needs to be examined and the Data Commissioner has committed to doing so. The public should be in no doubt that all data protection laws are being upheld.”

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