Random camera installation by authorities challenged in Ireland

Local authorities in Ireland are being warned they can’t ‘just put up cameras wherever they like’ after expansion of a CCTV scheme. Justice Minister Helen McEntee has announced a further €1 million for the development of schemes in specific communities. The scheme has been reformed to give local authorities the lead role and to allow community groups to request that authorities consider schemes in their area.

Irish Council of Civil Liberties (ICCL) spokesperson Olga Cronin told Newstalk Breakfast there is a process to go through. “A balance has to be struck,” she said. “We’re talking about rights to privacy, rights to data protection. “Even though the Minister has announced €1m funding for these schemes, she could have announced €10m for these schemes.

“Either way local authorities can’t just put up cameras wherever they like. “There’s a strict requirement in data protection law that the installation and operation of CCTV is necessary and proportionate.”

Ms Cronin acknowledged that there are areas where CCTV would be welcomed. “It has to be demonstrated, before any cameras are installed, that they’re necessary,” she said. “For example, there might be consideration of crime statistics but one can’t just put up a camera because funding for one is available.

“CCTV systems can have legitimate purposes, including securing premises, and as long as the CCTV is used proportionately and it doesn’t cause legitimate concerns of unreasonable and unlawful intrusion into the data protection and privacy rights of individuals then there’s a need for the CCTV,” she said.

“But that’s why this balance has to be struck [and] these assessments have to be carried out”. Ms Cronin said research suggests the effectiveness of CCTV in preventing and detecting crime “has been very mixed”. Grants of over €950,000 have been approved to date for 35 local CCTV schemes.

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