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Gardaí begin using body cameras in Dublin in historic policing measure – The Irish Times

Around 150 Dublin gardaí began gathering evidence using body cameras on Friday as the Gardaí deployed the equipment in a major development for Irish police.

The cameras can now be used to gather evidence to prosecute suspects, including agitators at protests and other events. In addition to the 150 gardaí already trained and equipped to use the cameras, a further 200 gardaí based in Dublin will receive training in the coming fortnight before the rollout extends to the cities of Limerick and Waterford.

Taoiseach Simon Harris, Justice Minister Helen McEntee and Garda Commissioner Drew Harris marked the development at an event at Store Street Garda Station in Dublin 1 on Friday.

“Many people in this country have long been frustrated that it often seems that the only person at the scene of a crime or protest without a camera is a guard,” the Taoiseach said, adding that cameras would help safeguard rights. of gardaí and the public whilst assisting the force in solving crimes.

McEntee said it was a “really significant day” for An Garda Síochána and its members. “They’ve been telling me for many years that they want body cameras, not only to keep themselves safe but because they would be an important tool … to respond to crime and also to protect victims.”

Commissioner Harris said he believed the cameras would be invaluable when gardaí “received the first complaints” of assaults, domestic abuse and sexual assaults.

He said he had seen how cameras “tempered behaviour” in volatile situations when he worked in Belfast as a PSNI officer. Furthermore, he said, if gardaí had had body cameras at their disposal during last November’s Dublin riots, they would have been of great help in investigating the violence and threats carried out.

“We have thousands and thousands of hours of CCTV, but what we don’t have is the audio and the audio betrays the individual’s intent,” he said.

Since December, there has been legislation that allows the use of cameras and the storage and processing of images for use as evidence. However, the scope and speed of the rollout has been taken by surprise.

The cameras, mounted on the jackets of uniformed gardaí, are turned on and off manually. They have a flashing red light or live streaming screen to alert the public that they are being recorded. Gardaí will also verbally inform people when the cameras are turned on.

However, gardaí are not legally required to inform the public when recording takes place in public spaces, although people must be informed, unless it is unsafe for gardaí to do so, when recording takes place in a private setting.

Gardaí at Store Street station joined their colleagues at Pearse Street and Kevin Street as the first members of the force to use the cameras from 9am on Friday. The scheme will next be extended to Henry Street Garda Station in Limerick and then to Waterford City in the coming months. Although the initial deployment covers just five stations, it will involve around 700 Garda members. The national rollout will begin in about 12 months.

The vast majority of the first group of gardaí to use the cameras will be frontline uniformed personnel. However, some Waterford detectives will also be using them from the end of summer.

The next nine to 12 months will effectively be a “proof of concept” project, with the cameras (and the legislation and technology underlying their use) being subject to a live learning and testing process. However, the video footage is being collected and stored immediately and can be used from Friday to initiate legal proceedings, as the plan has full legal basis.

The Garda Representative Association, which represents rank and file Gardaí, and the Garda Sergeants and Inspectors Association have campaigned for the cameras for years.

The implementation comes at a time when Garda senior management is increasingly concerned about the volume of work generated by the review and processing of video footage collected during investigations. They believe that the images available from body cameras, with an optimized and secure storage system, will greatly reduce the time needed to initiate processes based exclusively, or even partially, on video evidence.

Senior management also believe that cameras, especially when used by large numbers of gardaí in the same location, will be instrumental in identifying suspects in chaotic public order incidents and linking them to physical assaults and threats.

The images could also be used by members of the public as evidence when making complaints, including criminal charges, to the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission about individual gardaí.

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