Uploading bicycle or dash camera footage to an online portal for reporting road traffic offences to the Gardai is being linked to the rollout of Garda body cameras, according to a parliamentary answer Minister for Justice.
Because of the legislative and procurement issues, the Minister said “such an online portal will be during 2024 at the earliest”.
It was reported last week that the facial recognition element of the legislation is opposed by the Green Party which is putting pressure on Minister for Justice, Simon Harris, to remove that section from the legislation which will enable body cameras and other footage collecting.
The news comes as it was reported yesterday that Northern Ireland might be set to leapfrog the progress down south, with PSNI introducing its own version of Operation Snap, the system in other parts of the UK which allows for the upload of camera footage.
The PSNI told the Derry Journal newspaper that Operation Snap would cost it just £2,000 to set up and £3,500 a year to operate, excluding personal costs. It said that one officer would be dedicated to the operation.
In the Republic, body cameras and the online portal will share what is being termed a ‘digital evidence management system’, effectively an electronic storage system for video footage to be used as evidence.
Waterford TD Marc Ó Cathasaigh (Green Party) asked a written parliamentary question to the Minister for Justice for his position regarding the online portal to enable reporting of road traffic offences.
Minister Harris, said that action 29 of the Road Safety Strategy includes An Garda Síochána exploring the potential of an online portal for road users to upload footage of road traffic offences which could assist in prosecutions and that work on this is progressing,
Minister Harris said: “I understand that on 4 October 2022, Assistant Commissioner Paula Hilman gave the Joint Committee on Justice an update on this Action, and indicated An Garda Síochána’s commitment to the portal. I can also inform the Deputy that the legal advice made available to me indicates that specific legislative provisions will not be required for an online portal.”
“Section 41 of the Data Protection Act 2018 provides a lawful basis for personal data collected for one purpose to be processed for another purpose, where such onward processing is for the purpose of the prevention, detection, investigation or prosecution of criminal offences. Therefore, members of the public who collect dashcam footage are entitled to pass it on to An Garda Síochána, and An Garda Síochána is entitled to process it for the law enforcement purposes mentioned,” he said
The Minister said: “An Garda Síochána would need to process such data in line with its data protection obligations generally and would be required to put guidelines in place for dealing with the data obtained, its retention and destruction. I have been advised by the Garda authorities that uploading footage through an online portal as envisaged would only be a first step. An Garda Síochána would require a Digital Evidence Management System (DEMS) to store, manage and process any footage received.”
“I am further advised that a DEMS is a prerequisite for the deployment of body worn cameras, which is being provided for in the Garda Síochána (Recording Devices) Bill. The project to introduce body worn cameras and the accompanying DEMS, commencing with the procurement process, will be initiated by the Commissioner this year, following the enactment of the supporting legislation,” he said.
Harris said: “As part of this project, it is planned to introduce an online portal to enable the public to upload and submit video to An Garda Síochána. Given the lengthy likely procurement process and the follow-on implementation period it is envisaged that the introduction of such an online portal will be during 2024 at the earlist.”
In the meanwhile, he said: “I would of course encourage any member of the public to report any incidents of dangerous driving directly to An Garda Síochána.”