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21 Jan 2022

Data Protection Commission says unlawful use of CCTV in Limerick is 'disturbing'

CCTV

Just 44 of the 401 council-operated CCTV cameras in Limerick have a legal basis

A SENIOR official at the Data Protection Commission says findings that Limerick City and County Council has installed hundreds of CCTV cameras without 'any legal basis' make for disturbing reading.

Deputy Commissioner Tony Delaney, who led the three-year investigation, says just 44 of the 401 cameras operated by the local authority are fully compliant with GDPR and data protection regulations.

"What we found is that of the 401 cameras only 44 have proper authorisation so Limerick City and County Council have broken the law. They have gone and put up cameras and put up ANPR (automatic number plate recognition) with no legal basis," he said. 

Yesterday, it was revealed the council has been fined €110,000 - the first time a local authority in Ireland has been fined for such breaches.

Commenting on the report, Mr Delaney told Live 95's Limerick Today that most of the council-operated CCTV cameras in Limerick will have to be switched off, within three months, unless the council identifies a legal basis to retain them.

"They now have a breathing space to ask the the Garda Commissioner for authorisation. If they don't get the authorisation to provide a proper legal basis those cameras will have to be switched off," he said.

He added that the inquiry, which was launched following the introduction of GDPR regulations in 2018, also raised serious questions about the "flow of information" between the council and gardai.

"We were actually very disturbed about the interactions," he said pointing out that gardai operate their own CCTV system in Limerick and that it is perfectly lawful for them to get information from a lawful (CCTV) scheme.

Specific concerns were expressed in the 100-page report about the provision of live-feeds from some cameras to Henry Street garda station and informal requests from some gardai to monitor, in real-time, certain individuals or private homes. 

Limerick City and County Council says it is "examining the decision in detail and reviewing its implications with a view to taking all necessary and corrective actions".

An Garda Siochana has been contacted for comment.

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