Mullingar JPC members in tour of new CCTV system

It was a peculiar sight: politician after politician, filing into Mullingar Garda Station on a foggy Wednesday night of last week.For the excesses of the "boom times", many would love to see the odd politician end up in the slammer. But this crew were "in the brig" for an altogether different reason: monitoring how An Garda Siochána keeps the streets of Mullingar safe at night.Members of the Mullingar Joint Policing Committee met at the station for a brief quarterly meeting, before Superintendent John Gantly took them on a tour of the control room operating the town's CCTV network.With a red digital clock ticking on a wall tiled with sixteen TV screens, it reminds you of a war room - and as the central hub of Mullingar Gardaí's war on crime and public disorder, it could be called just that.The impressive control room is designed to have a regional as well as local remit, but Supt. Gantly told Mullingar Town Council members and their JPC colleagues that these plans have been put on the backburner for the time being.JPC members were shown actual footage of incidents which occurred in Mullingar over the past year - including the ram raid on the Mullingar Pharmacy premises, which was foiled by Gardaí thanks to the use of CCTV.Other videos shown demonstrated the Gardaí's ability to intervene in public order incidents, and arrest any protagonists before the situation goes out of control. The JPC members were also shown how the high-resolution camera system maintains the highest level of vigilance, without compromising the privacy of residents in Mullingar town.Mullingar town councillor, Bill Collentine put the burning question to Supt. Gantly: has the CCTV system reduced crime in the town?"We've certainly seen reduced levels of public order, and there have been a few incidents where we've intervened in time thanks to the CCTV," the superintendent said. "We can't get everything, but as towns go, public order is not a major problem here."Cllr. Pat Collins suggested that the CCTV system be used to catch out people who persist in using mobile phones while driving, and other traffic offences.The Chairman of the Mullingar Joint Policing Committee, Cllr. Ken Glynn, congratulated Mullingar Gardaí on their efficient use of the new system, and asked Supt. Gantly if he had a message for businesses coming up to Christmas.The Mullingar garda chief said that business people in the town should be "mindful of their own security", especially in light of the recent spate of tiger kidnappings."If people are in fear in any way, they shouldn't be afraid to contact us," Supt. Gantly said. "It's not only bank managers they go for; anywhere cash is readily available, if they think they can get away with it, they'll go for it."The superintendent said that thankfully, Mullingar and the Midlands has not yet had a recorded Tiger kidnapping to report."CCTV will be important in keeping it that way," he said.