A SENIOR member of the Garda Traffic Corps in Limerick has defended the use of digital cameras by gardai for ‘evidential purposes’.
Sgt Peter Kelly, Henry Street, was reacting to a complaint about the use of a digital camera by a member of the traffic corps to photograph parked cars during the recent Munster v Zebre match in the RaboDirect Pro 12 League at Thomond Park.
According to one man who complained in writing to garda management, he observed the garda “simply photographing the licence plates and car makes from the back of all cars”.
According to the letter of complaint, which has been seen by the Limerick Leader, the cars in question were all parked between LIT and Ivan’s Cross during the match.
“What was wrong with the convention of a garda pulling out his notebook and writing out a ticket and putting it on the window screen of the car? It smells of an all-out-attack to achieve maximum parking fines,” reads the letter.
It is not known if fixed-penalty-notices were issued to the registered owners of any of the cars which were photographed on the night.
While refusing to comment on the specific case, Sgt Kelly confirmed that cameras are used on occasion by members of the traffic corps in Limerick.
“We have camera equipment available to us in some of our patrol cars which can record offending vehicles and digital cameras can also be used by members,” he said, adding that any images which are recorded will only be used for evidential purposes in court, if so required.
“They don’t leave the (Traffic Corps) office, we don’t publish the photographs and they are deleted once the relevant period of time has elapsed,” he said.
It is understood that prosecuting gardai will only consider producing photographs in evidence if the registered owner of the vehicle claims they were elsewhere at the time of the alleged offence.
Sgt Kelly insists that gardai have a duty to enforce the traffic laws in-and-around major events that take place in the city.
“We have a duty and responsibility to residents who live in the vicinity of venues where large events are being staged to ensure they have access to their homes,” he said.
In recent years, Limerick City Council has banned parking on green areas during matches and events at Thomond Park or at the Gaelic Grounds.
As a result, it is not uncommon for cars to be towed away by gardai, leaving the owners having to pay a hefty release fee as a result.