Thursday, 29 January 2004

Questions (144)

Cecilia Keaveney

Question:

144 Cecilia Keaveney asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if there is a scheme available for community groups towards closed circuit television; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2623/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform)

It is not, understandably, possible for the Garda Síochána to install CCTV systems in all areas that have sought them. Some applications for CCTV systems received by the CCTV advisory committee, established by the Garda Commissioner to advise on all matters regarding CCTV systems, relate to relatively small schemes which, while of importance to the local community, cannot be regarded as a national Garda priority.

To this end, a grant-aid scheme has been launched to facilitate community based groups which wish to install their own local CCTV system. Grant assistance of up to €100,000 will, subject to the availability of funds, be obtainable from the Department towards the cost of such schemes. It will be up to the community groups, in conjunction with the relevant local authority to install, maintain and monitor the community based CCTV schemes.

The following are some of the conditions required to be met before an application for funding can be considered. Approval for grant assistance to individual CCTV schemes will depend on the availability of funds. All valid applications received will not be automatically entitled to grant aid. Awards will be at the discretion of the Department, subject to the availability of funds and the number of valid applications received. It is not possible to determine the actual level of funding that will be available for grant assistance under this scheme. The 2004 CCTV budget amounts to just over €4 million and includes expenditure in relation to maintenance of current Garda schemes as well as the implementation of current and planned schemes.

The Department has received a significant number of expressions of interest — in excess of 200 — in the community based CCTV scheme. An application prospectus has been prepared by the Department which provides information on how to apply for grant-aid funding, outlines the application process and identifies the main issues that applicants will need to consider. Copies of this prospectus are available on request from the Department's Garda administration division.

A code of practice, drawn up in co-operation with the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner, and detailed technical specifications, drawn up by the Garda Síochána, are almost complete. When both the code of practice and the technical specifications have been finalised, the Department will issue copies of same to all communities which expressed an interest in the community based CCTV scheme and any applications subsequently received will be evaluated and processed. It is anticipated that the technical specifications and the code of practice will be finalised early this year.