Day, night, fog, rain - police are watching you

Acting Southern district road policing manager Senior Sergeant Steve Larking stands next to the district's new police car which is fitted with automatic number plate recognition technology. Photos by Linda Robertson.
Acting Southern district road policing manager Senior Sergeant Steve Larking stands next to the district's new police car which is fitted with automatic number plate recognition technology. Photos by Linda Robertson.
Southern police hope new technology will help them catch more lawbreakers in the act.

A police car fitted with automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) technology has been deployed in the district, Southern district acting road policing manager Senior Sergeant Steve Larking says.

The technology allowed police to scan the number plates of up to 3000 vehicles in one hour and match them against any vehicles of interest.

''ANPR is a tool that helps us get dangerous drivers, unsafe vehicles and criminals off the road,'' he said.

''It's just one of the many tools police have in the toolbox as part of our push to make our roads safer.''

The technology used three cameras on the roof of the police car, which detected plates in ''360 degrees''.

''Pitch black, pouring ran, thick fog - it doesn't make a difference. It will still work,'' he said.

A view of the computer within the car.
A view of the computer within the car.
If a match for a vehicle of interest was detected, the information would be supplied to the two officers in the police car ''pretty instantly''.

''In Oamaru, during a trial, the guys did a U-turn and during the U-turn it picked up a vehicle [of interest] down a driveway about 100m away,'' Snr Sgt Larking said.

The police car differed little to non-ANPR fitted vehicles.

''It's hard for members of the public to tell the difference unless they have a close look,'' he said.

The vehicle had been used in Dunedin for about a week, but would be deployed across the Southern district - Otago and Southland - ''as and when needed''.

''Any high-risk, high-volume events - that's the sort of thing we will deploy it for, but on a day-to-day basis it will be out on patrol,'' Snr Sgt Larking said.

It could detect number plates on cars, trucks, campervans, trailers and motorcycles and could be used to detect stolen vehicles.

''On a three-month trial in Manukau [police district], 15 stolen vehicles were recovered and 180 forbidden drivers were taken off the road,'' he said.

While the technology was new, the information it used was no different from what police were accessing at present.

timothy.brown@odt.co.nz

ODT/directory - Local Businesses

CompanyLocationBusiness Type
Russell Cassidy LawyerDunedinLawyers
Wanaka Community Swimming PoolWanakaRecreational Activities
Alexandra Visitor Information CentreAlexandraInformation Centres
Pedicare In Your HomeMosgielBeauty