Garda chief wants cameras to stop criminals on the run

A LOCAL garda chief is proposing to install cameras at all motorway exits to capture registration numbers of “suspect” cars and stop criminals in their tracks.

A LOCAL garda chief is proposing to install cameras at all motorway exits to capture registration numbers of “suspect” cars and stop criminals in their tracks.

Homes and businesses across the county are falling victim to burglaries – and many of them are carried out by people travelling in from outside the area, particularly from Dublin.

Garda Chief Supt Mick McGarry also says that every city and town should have CCTV cameras, and that no housing estate should be built without having CCTV cameras installed at the entrance to the estate.

Speaking at a meeting of Kilkenny County Council’s joint policing committee on Monday, Chief Supt McGarry proposed that the council should look into installing automatic number-plate recognition (ANPR) at the motorway exits.

An Garda Síochána uses ANPR systems in its Traffic Corps vehicles, to automatically read registration plates at a rate of six per second on vehicles travelling up to 180kph.

As Supt Kevin Dolan explained at the meeting, if a “suspect” vehicle’s plate were captured by the cameras, the garda patrol car’s system would ‘ping’ instantaneously.

Putting up ANPR cameras at the link roads off the motorway would have one main goal: to stop criminals who use the motorways as quick get-aways.

Asked by Council Chairman Paul Cuddihy whether the opening of the motorways has changed the nature of burglaries, Chief Supt McGarry said: “I know it has.”

“The one big issue,” he said, is “all the link roads coming off the M50, because of the huge amount of crime being committed by Dublin-based criminals.”

“I don’t want to put any costs on any local authority, but it would be a crime-reduction measure,” he said of the cameras, a cost he said was “not hugely expensive,” while “the benefits are huge.”

Garda vehicles fitted with ANPR camera systems can “identify vehicles as being stolen, untaxed, suspect, cited as connected with terrorist suspects, crime groups, drug trafficking, people trafficking and/or persistent offending,” according to the Garda website.Chief Supt McGarry also said that “there should be no planning of estates without the installation of CCTV at the entrance of the estate,” and he added: “I personally believe that there should be no town or city without cameras tracking cars going in and out all the time.”

In the meantime, councillors urged local residents to be vigilant.It comes at a time when there is fear, particularly in rural areas, of break-ins. “We are all getting calls from people who are extremely worried about the sheer amount of burglaries that are occurring,” said Cllr Jane Galway (FG).

Cllr Tom Maher (FG) urged people to report suspicious vehicles to their local garda station. “If you have any doubt in the world about a car or a van that is not usually in your area, do not hesitate to ring the garda station in your area.”

Cllr Cora Long (FF) said it also comes down to the fact that in many new estates people don’t know their neighbours and therefore are less likely to notice cars or vans that aren’t supposed to be there and could be mistaken for delivery or service vehicles.