Community CCTV on the way for a number of towns

Community-based CCTV systems could be up and running in towns such as Ballyjamesduff, Belturbet and Ballyconnell by September of this year, following the lead of Ballinagh.

The update was provided to the members attending the local Joint Policing Committee last Friday (June 2) at Cavan Courthouse.

The initiative, for which grants of up to €40,000 were available from the Department of Justice, has been tied up in legislative and data protection red tape ever since it was first proposed nationally back in 2018.

Now, however, there seems to be a breakthrough on the horizon with the recently introduced the Garda Síochána (Recording Devices) Bill 2022 that extends Garda powers to use CCTV to help prevent crime and prosecute those involved in criminal activity.

To date 36 community CCTV schemes have been approved with a value of almost a million (€958,689) committed.

County Cavan alone has live applications under the scheme for the towns of Ballyjamesduff, Belturbet and Ballyconnell among others. The only community CCTV system operational to date in the county is in Ballinagh.

A demand for CCTV systems in every town in the county was made at a meeting of the Ballyjamesduff Municipal District in September last year, and in the wake of a fatal hit and run on the N3 that claimed the life of local man Frank Nulty from Billis.

Under the forthcoming legislation, community groups will be able to make formal request for the initiative to be rolled out in their own area with Local Community Safety Partnerships also being established.

A question with regard to the future of the CCTV scheme was tabled by Fine Gael’s Peter McVitty, which he described as an “ongoing saga”.

He pointed out that poles had been erected in Ballyconnell and cameras purchased, both of which have sat idle since.

“Is there any way to get things moving?” he had asked.

Responding, Garda Superintendent for the Bailieborough District, Gordon Englishby, informed that the system that exists in Ballinagh would act as a “template” for the roll-out of others, which he said can be “expected from September”.

“An agreement has been reached,” he told the meeting, further stating that the footage would be “monitored remotely”.

Independent Cllr Brendan Fay welcomed the news, saying the system installed in towns and villages would be of “great help to gardaí” in both tackling and solving crime.

“It has taken years but it is great to see something coming,” he said. “It’s fantastic news.”

Fine Gael’s TP O’Reilly was equally enthused. He said a “huge part” of the hold up was data protection regulation and issues around who the legal data holder would be and who, ultimately, would have access to view the footage. Cllr O'Reilly said it was important that such difficulties had been “thrashed out”.

“It’s a good result,” he stated, a welcome shared also by Trevor Smith (FG) who expressed his opinion that a garda barracks was the appropriate location to house hard drives and monitoring systems going forward.