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Concern over CCTV upkeep in Westport

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‘NOT GOOD ENOUGH’ Cllr Christy Hyland.


Anton McNulty

A COUNCILLOR has expressed grave concerns that if a serious incident occurred in Westport it may not be captured on CCTV due to the number of cameras not working.
Speaking at yesterday’s monthly meeting of the Westport/Belmullet Municipal District, Cllr Christy Hyland said cameras which are the responsibility of Mayo County Council were not working at a number of locations in the town.
It emerged that an incident where a car which was damaged in a Westport car park last week was not captured by a nearby camera because it was not working.
Cllr Hyland said that he became aware that gardaí looking for information on crimes were unable to count on these cameras and expressed concern that there was no sign of them being fixed.
“It was brought to my attention that there was a car damaged in town recently and the camera in the car park was not working. The gardaí would have been able to identify a culprit if the camera was working.  
“The Garda CCTV system is up and running but there are council cameras which are not working and it is is not good enough. It is something we have to be on top of all the time because God forbid anyone was attacked and the camera which could have told the story was not working. We would not be happy if it was a loved one belonging to us and we saw what happened above in Offaly with the awful murder of Ashling Murphy,” he said.
The council CCTV system is separate from the 17 CCTV cameras located around the town which are operated by An Garda Siochána.

Bureaucracy
Cllr Hyland also criticised the bureaucracy involved in getting approval for a CCTV system in towns and said it was going too far.
“At times in this country we go over the top because they have GDPR in France and Germany and they don’t have half the nonsense we have here. It is ridiculous where people want to put funding in to protect their own people and bureaucracy prevents them. Monsignor Horan built an airport in two years and here we are fiddling around talking about budgets for CCTV.
“It is terrible and how would any of us feel if anyone belonging to us was attacked and the CCTV not working,” he added.
Director of Services, Catherine McConnell, said the council would look at the broken cameras which are in their control but stressed that they may not have the budget for their maintenance and upkeep.
She said this was a problem because funding is available to install a CCTV system but there is uncertainty over who maintains the cameras into the future.
“There is money available for the initial purchase but there is no clarity as to who is responsible for their management and upkeep on an ongoing basis,” she said while adding the issue of GDPR was one which was off-putting for local authorities.
“Local authorities are the only body which can be the data control body and that brings its own issues and areas of concern which local authorities are reluctant to get involved in. The bureaucracy is the main thing which is stymieing any new CCTV cameras and I understand there is a discussion nationally about changing the data controller obligations because, really and truly, local authorities being the data controller makes little since,” she said.