IN a move to beef up policing in Castlebar, the CCTV camera system in the town is to be taken over in the New Year by the Gardaí.
The system, which was hailed as ‘the first of its kind anywhere in the country’ at its launch two-and-a-half years ago, will be updated and an additional ten to 15 state-of-the-art cameras are to be added to patrol a large part of the urban area.
A Garda spokesperson confirmed that talks with the voluntary group and the Council who set up the system were at an advanced stage and it was hoped that the new system would be fully operational by March of 2007.
“There will be a slight delay in the provision of the system as the communication room here in the Garda Station in Castlebar has to be updated so the system can be monitored 24 hours a day, but we would be hopeful it would be fully operational by early spring,” stated the spokesperson.
The community CCTV project was first mooted back in 2002 and was eventually funded by €60,000 from the Castlebar business community and €30,000 from the Castlebar Town Council. The money to fund the Garda takeover and new technology will come from the Department of Justice.
“We are greatly looking forward to the provision of the system as it has proved to be a great success in towns of similar sizes around the country. The cameras are proven to act as a deterrent to anti-social behaviour and vandalism on our streets and also in the investigation of serious crime,” added the Garda spokesperson.
Mayor of Castlebar, Cllr Brendan Henaghan said that Superintendent John Quirke had been in touch with the Council to provide improved lighting in some areas of the town so visibility on the cameras is improved.
“Public lighting is deficient in some parts of the town, particularly our car parks, and I will be bringing up the provision of this street lighting with my fellow councillors. A lot of people are afraid to walk at night time during the winter months because of bad lighting and a fear for their safety, but both the lights and cameras should make for a safer Castlebar,” stated the Mayor.
Cllr Henaghan said the Council and the traders of the town who each contributed to the funds raised to provide the cameras in 2004, should be praised for their foresight.
“CCTV is invaluable in its role as a public safety instrument, it provides security and confidence to the community while providing a retrospective investigative tool for the Gardaí and it will be a useful tool in a town like Castlebar which is continually expanding and developing,” added the Town Mayor.