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
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.
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
''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.