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Passage of Legislation to Provide Bodycams for An Garda Síochána Welcomed

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee TD has welcomed the passage of key legislation to provide An Garda Síochána with bodycams to give our Gardaí greater access to CCTV and to provide for community CCTV.

Minister McEntee said this puts An Garda Síochána on a clear path to begin rolling out bodycams on frontline Gardaí from next year, with Gardaí in Dublin City Centre having access to bodycams from next spring.

The Minister also welcomed the series of announcements from Commissioner Harris and the senior leadership team of An Garda Síochána, including the accelerated expansion of the Garda Dog Unit – as provided for by Minister McEntee in Budget 2024.

Other measures include the provision of stronger incapacitating spray for all Gardaí; the provision of tasers to public order units, subject to training; more public order training for Gardaí; more and improved public order equipment and vehicles; more Garda data scientists to support the analysis of evidential material; the purchase of hand held video cameras for public order units; and the further expansion of public order tactics.

The Minister also said she looks forward to attending the early attestation of 151 new Gardaí on December 15, with a substantial cohort being deployed in the Dublin Metropolitan Region, from December 16.

This will be the latest class to graduate from Templemore as Garda recruitment gains momentum and helps us build stronger, safer communities.

Numbers in Templemore continue to increase, with between 700 and 800 new recruits entering the college this year.

135 trainees entered the training college in February, 154 entered in May, 174 entered in July, and another 177 entered the college last month, the largest intake since Covid.

One more class is due into Templemore on December 27, putting us on course to have between 700 and 800 into the college this year.

Budget 2024 provides for the recruitment of between 800 and 1,000 recruits next year.

Equipping Gardaí with bodycams is a major element of Minister McEntee’s drive to equip Gardaí with state of the art modern equipment and she welcomed the passage of the Garda Síochána (Recording Devices) Bill 2022 through the Oireachtas.

It will provide a robust and modern statutory framework for the use by An Garda Síochána of recording devices to support their functions in investigating, detecting, preventing and prosecuting criminal offences, safeguarding against and preventing threats to public safety and public order, and in matters relating to the security of the State.

It will be accompanied by strong legislation to provide An Garda Síochána with Facial Recognition Technology.

The Bill will now be referred to the President to be signed into law.

Minister McEntee said, “the Government is committed to ensuring An Garda Síochána have the resources, the equipment and the technology necessary to build stronger, safer communities. This includes ensuring that Gardaí have body worn cameras, which has been a priority of mind for some time. The shocking scenes we witnessed last Thursday night show how crucial bodycams, as well as tools such as Facial Recognition Technology, are to protecting Gardaí and help bring criminals to justice.”

“These tough new laws will help An Garda Síochána identify perpetrators and gather evidence directly. It will help them deal with public order and with tackling incitement by the far right. But there will also be other benefits this Bill – greater access to Automatic Number Plate Recognition will help with longer term investigations, and reduce the time it takes to collate evidence and track suspects. Policing services across the world have gained significant benefits from the introduction of these technologies and I am confident that they will play an important role in improving Garda front-line capabilities and in ensuring the accurate recording of incidents.”

Minister McEntee added, “particularly in light of the shocking scenes we all witnessed last Thursday night, this Bill and the changes it will make are more important than ever. Now that the Bill has successfully completed its final stage, I hope to see it enacted, commenced, and for body-worn cameras to be rolled out as soon as possible. I also welcome the Garda Senior Leadership Teams decision on a range of measures to support Gardaí in policing serious public order incidents and conducting criminal investigations in order to keep people safe.”

“This includes running a separate proof of concept (POC) project involving the deployment of body-worn cameras in Dublin city centre. The cameras will be used in conjunction with a code of practice developed in line with the Digital Recording Bill. This relatively quick technical solution will make Body Worn Cameras available to city centre Gardaí in a shorter timeframe to the main solution by next spring.”

The use of Facial Recognition Technology will be provided for separately in the new Garda Síochána (Digital Management and Facial Recognition Technology) Bill 2023.

Minister McEntee said, “I have instructed officials to include riot and violent disorder in the new facial recognition bill which will be ready to go to Government within weeks. I have also informed the Cabinet that I have asked An Garda Síochána to consider how to fast track the purchase of Garda bodycams.”

The Department of Justice has engaged extensively with An Garda Síochána, Garda oversight bodies and strategic partners during the preparation of this Bill, as well as the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner, the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission and the Irish Council for Civil Liberties.

The legislation is an overt policing Bill, dealing primarily with recording in public places, and is fully compliant with the GDPR and the accompanying law enforcement directive. Codes of practice will be developed for the use of the various technologies provided for in the Bill and will be included in a Statutory Instrument.


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