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18 Aug 2022

Roscrea Garda CCTV system 'making extraordinary progress'

Law does not support Laois CCTV schemes

Roscrea's Garda CCTV system will soon be a reality

Roscrea's much anticipated Garda camera system is now at an advanced stage, after overcoming numerous hurdles to make the CCTV system which assists Gardaí monitor the streets a reality.

New GDPR data protection laws had moved the goalposts for the dedicated committee behind the project, who were faced with sourcing a camera system that satisfies the complex data preservation laws, while also not sullying the streetscape of the heritage town with the erection of new poles for cameras - a factor which added an extra layer of complexity due to planning rules applying to street fixtures.

However, Borrisokane's camera system, which for several years had progressed almost in tandem with Roscrea and is also driven by a very hardworking committee, has fallen behind the Roscrea scheme and awaits approval by the Garda Commissioner's office to advance further.

Chairman of the Tipperary Joint Policing Committee, Noel Coonan (FG), sought the committee's approval for changes to the Roscrea scheme, which sees a radically redesigned system using the latest cloud storage technology ready to be deployed in Roscrea.

Two redesigned camera systems, with differences in cost and how they function, were considered by the Roscrea CCTV committee. One system, which would cost approximately €90,000 to install and require €2,800 per annum in maintenance costs, as well as the erection of four poles for mounting cameras, was seen as a non-runner.

That system would have required the monitoring equipment to be located in Roscrea library and for multiple planning hurdles to be overcome for the erection of the four poles in the centre of a heritage town.

Instead, the committee opted for a system with an initial installation cost of €65,000 and ongoing running costs of €10,540 per annum - this system uses the latest iCloud technology for storing the footage, which can be accessed by Gardaí remotely and would require the erection of one pole in the town centre.

60% of the ongoing maintenance costs will be met by Department of Justice funding and the remaining 40% running costs will be shared by the local authority and local community and those ongoing costs were a point of caution raised by Director of Services, Pat Slattery.

"Our experience of putting in CCTV systems is that it is a lot easier to find the installation and construction funding because we can apply to the Department for capital funding and then the Council can match it, but it is the ongoing maintenance costs that cause difficulty because it has to come out of our revenue budget which is always very tight", Mr. Slattery cautioned.

"Before you make a final decision I would suggest you run it by the Municipal District because it will ultimately come out of the District budget and there isn't a centrally held CCTV budget within the County Council, so each of the CCTV systems are monitored and maintained by the Districts.

"If the District can do an annual maintenance costing and if they can't you might need to reassess the options based on reducing maintenance costs into the future", Mr. Slattery said.

Chairman Noel Coonan said there had been a lot of discussion in Roscrea about the maintenance costs and it was determined that erecting poles in Roscrea would detract from its historical streetscape - "people in Roscrea want poles taken down and instead of putting up poles in Roscrea the people want them removed and wirescaping carried out", Cllr. Coonan said.

Cllr. Coonan said the successful installation of a camera system "has been dragging on for years and people are getting very frustrated" and that after much deliberation among all stakeholders including the Chamber of Commerce, it was decided this system offers the best solution. "It still has a lot of hurdles to overcome, but we want to progress the scheme onto the next stages", Cllr. Coonan said. 

"FRUSTRATION" IN BORRISOKANE

Cllr. Ger Darcy (FG) sought an update on the progress of the CCTV system for Borrisokane and said that although he is delighted to see the Roscrea system "making such extraordinary progress", people in Borrisokane are becoming "very frustrated because a lot of work has been done".

The meeting heard the paperwork for the Borrisokane system was completed and forwarded to Thurles Garda Station for their approval, before it is forwarded to the Garda Commissioner's office.

Paperwork for the Fethard and Littleton camera systems had some minor issues which have since been remedied and are also in Thurles Garda Station before submission for approval by the Garda Commissioner, the meeting heard. 

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