The Government is set to introduce legislation to legalise the use of body-worn cameras for gardaí.

The Garda Síochána Digital Recording Bill will also give gardaí new powers to use other recording devices in the course of their duties, including phones, camcorders, laptops and drones.

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee is to bring the outline of the new Bill to Cabinet tomorrow but the measures are unlikely to become law until next year.

The move has been welcomed by the garda associations but criticised by the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) as "invasive and unnecessary".

The associations representing gardaí have been calling for years for their members to be allowed to carry body-worn cameras but this has been opposed by the ICCL.

Minister McEntee is proposing new legislation on the use, not only of body-worn cameras, but also other recording devices for gardaí.

They can only be used to prevent, detect or prosecute criminal offences, secure public order or safety and safeguard - or prevent threats to - public security.

The Digital Recording Bill will also replace existing legislation on fixed CCTV in public places and provide for mobile CCTV [closed circuit television] and ANPR [automatic number plate recognition] cameras to be fitted to garda cars and vans.

The Garda Commissioner may authorise the installation and operation of CCTV systems and gardaí will also be able to access third party CCTV on a live feed basis and the ANPR data from other organisations' cameras.

Minister McEntee said the Department of Justice has engaged extensively with, among others, the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, the Data Protection Commissioner and the ICCL.

The deployment of body-worn cameras by gardaí was recommended by the Commission on the Future of Policing two-and-a-half years ago.

ICCL Executive Director Liam Herrick said recent research from other jurisdictions has debunked the theory that body-worn cameras improve police detection and the detection of crime.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, he said the minister's indication that she wants to overhaul the entire legal regime for surveillance by police is positive.

He said that there is new technology emerging all the time that has huge potential for crime prevention, but also has huge potential for the use of mass surveillance and a balance must be struck.

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The Vice President of the Garda Representative Association said Ireland is "years behind" other law enforcement agencies in regard to the use of body-worn cameras by gardaí.

Speaking on RTÉ's Drivetime, Brendan O'Connor said footage captured by cameras provides "the best evidence available" when giving evidence to a court case or assisting the Director of Public Prosecutions in deciding appropriate charges.

"Our members are very much focused on assaults on themselves when we take it from our own perspective, but also other victims of crime would benefit," he said.

He said the cameras have been used to capture "the horror and immediate aftermath" of domestic violence situations, and that it is important that gardaí would have the evidence to proceed in these circumstances.

Mr O'Connor said individual gardaí would not have ownership of the footage and that it would instead by held by An Garda Síochána.

He said the footage could also be used to examine potentially inappropriate behaviour by gardaí.

Gardaí already face a high level of scrutiny, he said, adding that they have "nothing to fear" from that level of scrutiny.

Mr O'Connor said it was his understanding the legislation would regularise the situation around data control for community CCTV.

He said he welcomed commentary from bodies such as the Irish Council for Civil Liberties.

He said he was confident the Government and the Garda Commissioner would draft legislation and implement policy addressing privacy concerns.

"Gardaí operate in a very transparent manner. We have very sophisticated oversight mechanisms at different levels and different agencies. We're also bound by data protection legislation," he said.