100,000 Irish Number plates scanned each day

Irish Number Plates Scanned each day

MORE than 100,000 Irish Number plates are scanned by gardaí every day as part of a crackdown on untaxed, uninsured or stolen vehicles. 

The move has been welcomed by the Automobile Association of Ireland, which estimates 8% of vehicles, around 160,000, on Irish roads are uninsured. The roll-out of the Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) system to 100 Garda cars is also being used in the investigation of serious crime, including shootings or murders in situations where gardaí have details of cars associated with suspects.

The system also has a “watch list” of cars linked with gangland figures.

The registration plates are checked against three sources of information:

- Details of vehicles untaxed for three months, supplied from the National Vehicle Driver File.

- Daily feed of uninsured vehicles from the insurance industry.

- The Garda database on stolen cars or cars on the wanted list.

“The system has been hugely successful,” said a Garda spokesman. “It means gardaí don’t have to stop each and every vehicle to find out if they are taxed and insured.”

He said the 104 Garda cars installed with the technology automatically scan registration plates of vehicles. An alert is sent back to the car with details of cars which have registered a hit, either for tax, insurance or crime reasons.

The spokesman stressed the system assists, not directs gardaí.

“It’s a guide for gardaí. It’s up to them to stop the car and establish the situation. It could be the driver has just got the car taxed and there’s no problem,” he said.

The spokesman said in an eight-hour shift on the M50, a single Garda car would scan around 3,000 vehicles. He said each division had around three cars with ANPR, with bigger divisions having more.

The data records the act location of the vehicle when scanned and the time. This is very useful for gardaí investigating a serious crime in trying to trace a suspect’s movements. The system was introduced in October 2008 but came up against civil rights concerns from the Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) regarding the retention of data of law-abiding citizens.

The DPC was keen to ensure the details of law-abiding drivers were retained for a minimum period and that the data was securely kept.

The annual report of the DPC launched on Thursday said a policy had been agreed between them and the gardaí last April, allowing roll-out of the system across the country.

Under the system agreed all information is deleted after a year, except in serious crime cases.

Niall Doyle, corporate affairs manager of the Irish Insurance Federation, said: “Our advice to those driving uninsured is that you will get caught.”

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