€6m Garda camera system to crack down on road offences


Motorists flouting road traffic laws or failing to tax or insure their vehicles face a much stricter Garda enforcement regime on the roads next year due to a new €6 million Garda computer and camera system, writes Conor Lally

The computer will be installed in Garda Traffic Corps vehicles and is due to be introduced in the coming months, The Irish Times has learned.

The computer and camera system will allow for the instant reading and analysis of registration plates of all traffic passing a Garda car. The system will be linked to the Garda's Pulse computer database.

It means any vehicles which are not taxed or insured or which have been reported stolen will trigger a warning notice on an in-car computer screen.

A warning will also be triggered for cars which have not passed the National Car Test (NCT) or which have any other outstanding infringement.

This will allow gardaí to give chase and issue a fine to the motorist. It will also allow gardaí to instantly identify repeat offenders who have ignored previous fines and other sanctions and to put them off the road.

Currently, if gardaí want to check on a vehicle they must call their local station via in-car radio and ask a colleague to manually check the registration on the Pulse system. This is time-consuming and means only a small number of checks can be carried out.

Under the new system, 50 Garda Traffic Corps vehicles will be fitted with two small in-car cameras. One camera will face to the front of the vehicle and the other to the rear.

The two cameras will allow for instant analysis of registration plates of all vehicles passing in both directions, whether a Garda vehicle is moving or parked by the roadside.

Senior Garda sources believe the tougher enforcement regime will foster more responsible and safer driver behaviour and help reduce road fatalities, which have climbed to a four-year high this year.

Moreover, gardaí also believe the Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) system will prove invaluable in the fight against gangland crime. It will be able to immediately identify any vehicles stolen to order for the purposes of carrying out murders, robberies or major drug deals.

In recent years organised crime gangs have increasingly been ordering cars from car thieves for the purposes of carrying out serious crime.

A proposal to buy the new €6 million system is currently with Garda management at Garda headquarters, Phoenix Park, Dublin. It is expected to be approved and rolled out in the coming months. The stricter regime is expected to result in increased revenue in additional traffic fines.