These were the remarks of Minister for Justice Simon Harris speaking in the Dáil yesterday about the Garda Siochana (Recording Devices) Bill 2022. The Bill is at the second stage of debates in the Dáil.
If enacted, the legislation will allow gardaí to record from body-worn cameras, devices, vehicles, dogs and aircraft.
Minister Harris says that body-worn cameras in police forces internationally have improved the accuracy of recording incidents. The devices have helped to “expedite analysis, enhance situational awareness and protect police from harm.”
Minister Harris says that there has been a rise in threatening, divisive behaviour which has led to gardaí being subjected to harm and injury.
“We need An Garda Síochána to have the tools and resources to combat crime, and to fulfil their primary duty, protecting the public.”
CCTV and automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) will also be extended to “help prevent crime and prosecute those involved in criminal activity.”
Gardaí will be allowed to acquire CCTV footage from public locations with judicial approval. For periods of less than 72 hours, a superintendent or higher can approve this access.
The Garda Commissioner can also allow for the implementation of CCTV in Garda premises in certain circumstances set out in the legislation.
ANPR will also be extended to allow gardaí to monitor a vehicle which is related to an “arrestable offence” or a matter of “national security.”
This power lasts for three months and can be extended by the courts where necessary. Gardaí may also be allowed to investigate past license plates in some situations.
Minister Harris says that up-to-date digital tools are needed to keep gardaí and communities safe and to counteract “thuggish behaviour.”