One third of Garda cars have licence plate recognition

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Only one third of Garda cars have licence plate recognition

It has emerged that just under one third of Garda Traffic Corps vehicles are fitted with licence plate recognition technology.

Compared to the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), which have almost all their cars fitted with this technology.

Independent TD, Tommy Broughan mentioned the comparison between the two Police Forces and had suggested that the PSNI , “seems to have that technology available across the service for a long time and we don’t seem to have the same invigilation”.


There are currently 289 Garda vehicles “assigned for use” by the Garda Traffic Corps according to Frances Fitzgerald, Tánaiste and Minister for Justice.

Mr. Broughan brought this question up in the Dáil as an official Parliamentary question and received the following a written reply from the Tánaiste, where she states that licence plate recognition

“is in use in all Garda divisions and districts nationwide and that the use of this technology is kept under constant review by Garda management”.

The interesting thing is that, of the 289 vehicles available to the traffic division, only 103 official Garda vehicles are actually fitted with the technology and of this number, only 91 are in the Traffic Corps.


Number plate recognition technology

This technology can automatically detect and identify the identity of vehicle owners from their licence plates. The Gardaí can do this directly from their vehicles while in transit.

ew_206_full_led_lightbar_and_anpr_cameras_-_flickr_-_highway_patrol_images ANPR Technology

Automatic Number Plate Recognition

ANPR uses optical character recognition technology to automatically read vehicle registration plates and is used in patrol cars by many police forces worldwide. The technology can read number plates at a rate of six per second on vehicles travelling up to 180km/h.

ANPR systems also include a speed detection capability. This allows for the measuring of the speed of a vehicle travelling in front of a patrol vehicle. The video camera records on-the-scene evidence of speeding, and offences such as dangerous driving, crossing continuous white lines and breaking red lights.

One of the main benefits of the system is that the plate recognition can run in the background while Gardaí are measuring speed or attending to other issues as demands dictate.

All vehicles fitted with ANPR camera systems will be able to identify vehicles as being stolen, untaxed, suspect, cited as connected with terrorist suspects, crime groups, drug trafficking, people trafficking and/or persistent offending. - An Garda Síochána website

A new Garda strategy has been put in place which will run until 2021. This is designated as the An Garda Síochána Modernisation and Renewal Programme, which aims to make greater use of licence plate recognition technology. Under this new programme, the Gardaí intend to expand the number of their vehicles with the technology and “all units being 3G-enabled to give gardaí real-time information on suspect vehicles”.

minihawk_anpr_camera_on_police_car ANPR Technology on a police vehicle

Road safety issues

The Garda Traffic Corps are now down to under 700 Garda personnel but those killed on our roads due to road collisions are already higher than last year. Last year, 162 people died on Irish roads but so far this year, there have already been 163 fatalities.

ANPR technology can provide the Gardaí with an increased ability to monitor high volumes of vehicles with immediate autonomy, safely, accurately and without human error or bias. They can detect vehicles of interest and can act as a screening tool, helping to identify a vehicle which may warrant further investigation. This can be very helpful in identifying, unlicensed drivers, drivers without tax and insurance, vehicles which may have been in collisions and drivers who have been stopped before for drink driving offences. All of these factors can contribute to better road safety.


Justin Kavanagh
Justin Kavanagh is a recognised leader in automotive intelligence and vehicle data supply to the entire motor industry. He has almost 20 years experience in building systems from the ground up. As the Managing Director of Vehicle Management System, he understands the need and importance of trustworthy and reliable vehicle history and advice to both the trade and the public.
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