Statement from Minister Flanagan on the role of data controllers in community CCTV schemes
“I have heard from many groups of their desire for CCTV in their local areas and I know the sense of security that it can bring to many communities. Responding to this demand, the Government has made significant funding available to assist groups wishing to establish community CCTV in their areas. The grant aid scheme administered by my Department is intended to run for 3 years, with €1 million available each year.
The Senator will appreciate that there are a number of legal requirements around establishment of CCTV.
CCTV systems installed for the purposes of crime prevention and as aids to policing in areas to which the general public routinely have access, such as town centres, fall into two distinct but complementary categories, namely Garda CCTV systems and community-based CCTV systems. Neither type of CCTV system may be established without authorisation by the Garda Commissioner under section 38 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005, among other requirements.
Community CCTV is governed by section 38(3)(c) of the Garda Síochána Act 2005 and the Garda Síochána (CCTV) Order 2006.
This legal framework requires that any proposed community CCTV scheme must-
- be approved by the local Joint Policing Committee,
- have the authorisation of the Garda Commissioner, and
- have the prior support of the relevant local authority, which must also act as data controller.
I wish to emphasise that this is the legal basis for all community CCTV schemes, regardless of whether or not grant funding is sought from my Department to assist in their establishment.
In accordance with this legal framework, the large majority of local authorities have previously undertaken to act as data controllers in the context of specific community CCTV schemes. This has been the case either in the course of the current grant-aid scheme administered by my Department, during the previous grant-aid scheme operated by Pobal on behalf of the Department, or in connection with schemes funded independently by local authorities. I understand from my Department's engagement with the Local Government Management Agency that the total number of local authorities which have undertaken the role of data controller for these purposes amounts to 28 out of the 31 local authorities nationwide.
I am also very pleased to inform the Senator that the Data Protection Commissioner’s Office has, on 29 November of this year, issued a guidance on data protection and community CCTV. The guidance, which is available on the DPC website www.dataprotection.ie , confirms that there is a legal basis for community based CCTV and that the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) does not introduce new barriers in that regard.
In particular and I am now quoting directly from the Data Protection Commission’s guidance:
“Data protection legislation does not stand in the way of the roll-out of Community based CCTV schemes that have been authorised by the Garda Commissioner. Once the local authority in the administrative area concerned is willing to take on and deliver on its responsibilities as a data controller for the schemes concerned, there is no legal impediment under data protection legislation to the scheme commencing.”
The guidance covers a number of other issues also – for example confirming that local authorities are not required, as a result of their role as data controller, to monitor CCTV live feeds on a continuous basis. I am confident that this and other clarifications in the note will be of significant assistance to local authorities in terms of how they carry out their role in relation to community CCTV.
The Data Protection Commissioner’s Office is also currently conducting an audit of issues including the practice, operation and governance of CCTV. Again I would expect the more detailed findings of that process to be of assistance to all concerned and in particular to local authorities.
The Senator may also wish to be aware that my Department is also engaging on an ongoing basis with the Local Government Management Agency and the County and City Management Association, to clarify any queries arising.
The Programme for a Partnership Government commits to supporting investment in CCTV systems and as I have said, my Department is administering a grant aid scheme to assist groups in the establishment of community-based CCTV systems in their local areas. Eligible groups can apply for grant-aid of up to 60% of the total capital cost of a proposed CCTV system, up to a maximum total of €40,000.
There have to date been 27 applications to the scheme. 20 applications have been approved for grants totalling more than €500,000. A further 4 applications to the scheme are currently being assessed and considered. The remaining 3 applications have been returned to the applicants concerned to enable them to supply the information necessary to qualify for grant aid.
I am keen to ensure that all interested groups, in both rural and urban areas, take advantage of the availability of this grant aid scheme. If the Senator is aware of community groups wishing to avail of the scheme, full details of the grant aid package are available to download from my Department's website www.justice.ie and support and guidance is available to help interested groups to apply for this funding through a dedicated email address firstname.lastname@example.org