Technology tags offenders

By LUIS FELIU

A NEW high-tech piece of equipment used for the first time by Tweed-Byron police in a month-long traffic operation resulted in the laying of almost 200 charges and issuing of more than 1000 infringement notices.

The equipment, called Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR), was used by the Tweed-Byron police's highway patrol during May to target driver behaviour in known trouble spots throughout the region.

Operation Legitimate targeted unregistered vehicles, suspended drivers, drink drivers and unsafe driving.

Tweed-Byron traffic co-ordinator Sergeant Bill Darnell said the operation helped lower the monthly average of crashes in the area by about 15 per cent.

Combined with other police initiatives, Sgt Darnell said incidents of assault, malicious damage and stealing had been cut as a result.

"Those who drive without a licence and/or in an unregistered vehicle are at a greater chance of being detected with the use of this technology and should be mindful of the substantial penalties for these offences and the ramification of being involved in an at-fault motor-vehicle crash," he said.

The operation using ANPR detected 245 unregistered vehicles and 70 unlicensed drivers. Other offences where charges were laid include 25 disqualified drivers, 11 suspended drivers and three cancelled drivers.

ANPR involves the use of a roadside small camera mounted on tripod which reads the number plate of a vehicle as it drives past and checks the information with a data base accessed by a lap-top computer operated by a highway-patrol officer.

Within half a second, the computer displays a result alerting whether the car is unregistered, stolen, the driver is unlicensed or any other information which tags a vehicle or driver as one of interest to police and the vehicle is then requested to pull over.

The new technology is being shared by police throughout the state.



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