Fears Number plate recognition targets the poor in Australia

Australian Policecar

Welfare groups are claiming that the hi-tech licence plate recognition system is targeting the poor.  Police believe the all-new Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) system is the key to identifying illegal vehicles

The ANPR – which sits on top of a patrol car – scans and records number plates of passing vehicles, which is automatically linked the to the police database. If a vehicle is wanted for any reasons below the patrol vehicle will give chase:

  • stolen vehicles
  • disqualified drivers
  • expired registration
  • wanted persons


ANPR – which is capable of scanning up to 3000 number plates an hour – is an extension of the traditional process in which an officer would have to call a radio dispatcher to access information in the police database.


The technology, which proved controversial when introduced here (Britain), is fitted to five police vehicles nationwide, at a cost of about $40-50,000 each. They’re shared on a rotational basis during the trial period.

But Poverty Action Waikato researcher Rose Black said people on benefits and minimum wage jobs often struggled to meet the costs of vehicle licensing and maintenance. “There are people in our community who simply don’t have the money,” she said. “Something like this, which increases the level of surveillance for everyday people, can mean that people who are in that vulnerable population end up with even more in the way of sanctions, punishments or fines on their lives that they simply can’t afford.”

AA road safety spokesman Mike Noon saying the new system increased police productivity.

“It costs a lot of money to put a policeman in a car and what we want them to be doing is high-quality, effective work. Technology is one of the ways we can make them more productive and target those people who are most at risk and who are of most interest to the police, and that’s a good thing.”

Do you think the ANPR is targeting poor people ?