There is not enough evidence to show that bodycams can protect Gardaí or the public, according to the Irish Council for Civil Liberties.
Legislation allowing for the use of bodycams is expected before the Oireachtas in the coming weeks; however, concerns remain over privacy and their effectiveness.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, The Irish Council for Civil Liberties Executive Director Liam Herrick said the government was due to publish the findings of a consultation process into the technology before bringing forward the legislation.
“The research has never been published so the public is in the dark about what the evidence is," he said.
“We have looked at the evidence from around the world and we are not convinced that it is going to either protect Gardaí or the public, but we’re open for a discussion on this.”
Also on the show, former Garda Assistant Commissioner Pat Leahy said the technology can improve policing in Ireland – but only if it is accompanied by effective rules and regulations of use.
“I do believe it can have an effect,” he said.
“I think it is better than the arguments to start arming An Garda Síochána with tasers which I have heard recently as well so I do think the bodycams offer another solution.
“It is not a panacea obviously but it does help to protect An Garda Síochána and also to protect the community. So, I would be absolutely in favour of progressing with this.”
Mr Leahy said the evidence from other jurisdictions “hasn’t come down on one side or another definitively”.
“There is good feedback on both sides,” he said. “In actual fact, both the public and the police feel it would protect them from each other in most jurisdictions, but as I said it’s not a panacea.
“It is just another tool in the box and when we see what has happened around Ireland in recent times, Gardaí need to be protected in some way because the rules seem to have broken down in some areas.
“I think about 2,500 Gardaí, if I am not mistaken, have been injured on duty formally or officially in the last ten years.
“Now I can tell you that is just the tip of the iceberg because the majority of Gardaí don’t report it because they view it almost as being part and parcel of the jobs they do.”
Mr Herrick said the ICCL would support the use of bodycams if the evidence showed they were effective.
“If body cams delivered benefits in terms of protecting gardaí […] and reduced inappropriate use of force by gardaí we would be for them the same way Pat or anyone else would,” he said.
“Unless you can prove that is the case, what you are doing here is adding an additional level of surveillance.
“Surveillance brings risks that private actions would be filmed and shared inappropriately and so on. So, you need to meet a threshold here.”
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