Tuesday, 3 February 2004

Questions (310)

John Bruton

Question:

439 Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when the guidelines for inclusion of towns to receive closed circuit television will be finalised; if the reason for the delay in setting out the guidelines is lack of funds; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2751/04]

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

It is assumed that the Deputy is referring to the community based CCTV scheme which was launched to facilitate community based groups who wish to install their own local CCTV system. 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 who 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 my 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.

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, and I assure the Deputy that no delay has been caused by lack of funds. It is not, however, possible to determine the 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.

When both the code of practice and the technical specifications have been finalised, my Department will issue copies of same to all communities who 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.