A community-based CCTV system with 16 cameras in Tullow, Co Carlow has not been operational since the end of October as no one can be found to operate it.
Cllr William Paton told a recent meeting of the Carlow Joint Policing Committee that the system was no longer working. He said the Develop Tullow Association (DTA) concluded its five-year service commitment to the scheme and was not willing to run the service any more. It had given five-months' notice.
The burden of running the system on the volunteers was significant, with an annual outlay of around €4,000 to €5,000, while scanning CCTV for a particular crime could take hours for a volunteer. Strict regulations around GDPR were also a factor in the decision, according to a report in the Carlow Nationalist.
“We are losing out big time. As far as I am concerned, it’s a matter for An Garda Síochána,” said Cllr Paton. He said the positive impact of CCTV in Tullow had been remarkable.
“Tullow is no longer a place to do crime. Serious gangs are avoiding Tullow; gangs are going to other towns because they do not want to be seen in the area. It’s a serious retrograde step.”
Chief Superintendent Anthony Pettit said a meeting would be arranged between gardaí and the DTA group to see what could be done. However, the garda chief stressed that legislation did not allow gardaí to be the ‘data controller’ for the Tullow scheme. Gardaí are not entitled to run or manage community-based CCTV but can access it if a crime is being investigated. This is different from Carlow, where gardaí have their own CCTV scheme in the town.
“It’s not the case that we don’t want to manage it; we can’t manage it – the legislation doesn’t allow for it,” he said.
Chief Supt Pettit said that parties could perhaps look at redesignating the scheme to become a garda scheme, but it was mentioned at the meeting that this would be difficult.
Supt Anthony Farrell said there was no 24-hour garda presence in Tullow, while garda CCTV systems like the one in Carlow town were in larger urban centres.
Supt Farrell lauded the work of Develop Tullow and local political representatives, but the issue was that no alternative service provider came forward to run the system. It was arranged that gardaí would meet representatives of Develop Tullow to see what could be done to get the system back up and running.
Cllr Paton was of the firm view that An Garda Síochána should take over the system, as the “security of the state” was the responsibility of gardaí.
Cllr John Pender said it was very disappointing and considerable investment had gone into the CCTV.
“Tullow is now the third-largest centre of population in Carlow and Kilkenny. At the very least, we deserve proper garda presence and proper monitoring of garda presence in the town.”
Deputy Jennifer Murnane O’Connor said someone had to take responsibility for the cameras and that the 16 cameras were preventing crime.
Cllr John McDonald said the Dublin riots showed the importance of CCTV and facial recognition to “bring the thugs to justice”.