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Major Garda operation trials number plate recognition technology

A TOTAL of 28 tickets for motoring offences were logged in a two-hour period, in a special Garda operation outside Ennis on Thursday (September 17).

Using new mobility apps, which have number plate recognition technology installed, members of the Clare Divisional Garda Roads Policing Unit, carried out a major operation on the dual carriage way between the Clareabbey roundabout and the junction with the M18. The operation, which was rolled out under the supervision of Assistant Commissioner David Sheahan, also led to the seizure of four vehicles, including a truck, and the detection of one person driving under the influence of drugs.

“In a nutshell, these devices and the new apps that they carry are taking Gardaí out of the dark ages and into the 21st century in terms of technology,” said Inspector Paul Slattery, head of the Roads Policing Unit. “When you see a Garda looking at a device on the side of the road, they’re not checking social media. We now have a Virtual Private Network (VPN) which connects us directly to Garda systems.”

Last Thursday, the operation focused on automatic number plate recognition technology. “That can detect any number of offences including tax, insurance, NCT issues and whether or not someone is driving while disqualified,” Inspector Slattery explained. “The Garda with the device will radio a colleague at the other end of the checkpoint who will pull the driver over if there’s an issue. We can also log all of the details of an offence and while we can’t issue electronic tickets, it greatly speeds up the process. Previously, if might take up to two months, if there was a backlog, for someone to be issued with a ticket. Now, we have real-time information at our finger tips.”

In addition to the number plate recognition technology, the mobility devices will also have a number of other apps linking to statutory agencies and databases.

“To-date, 94 devices have issued to members in the Clare Garda Division,” Inspector Slattery said. “This is part of a national roll out of devices which will be given to all individual members in due course.

About Fiona McGarry

Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald. Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti. She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at NUI Galway. If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at fmcgarry@clarechampion.ie or telephone 065 6864146.

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