Automated number plate recognition is essential for law enforcement

Genetec Australia Pty Ltd

By George Moawad, Country Manager for ANZ, Genetec
Tuesday, 02 April, 2024

Automated number plate recognition is essential for law enforcement

Police and other law enforcement agencies have always relied on access to timely, high-quality data. Whether that’s to detect or act on a crime in progress or to carry out an investigation and catch lawbreakers, the right information is critical. Being able to effectively respond requires a high level of awareness, something which is increasingly challenging as cities grow in population density.

The importance of physical security tools such as cameras is increasing as police seek to minimise the impacts of crime and successfully investigate illegal activity. Automated registration plate recognition can detect number plates on vehicles and, by using optical character recognition, read the plate details.

In parallel with growing population and density, police forces around Australia are operating with fewer officers per capita with the numbers steadily falling over recent years. The Police Federation of Australia, in its annual reports, has detailed falling numbers of members over recent years while there has been increased public perception that crime is worse than ever. Police forces and other law enforcement agencies are under increased pressure and scrutiny to prevent crimes before they escalate and to successfully catch and prosecute criminals faster than ever before.

Registration plate data can be used to quickly ascertain the registered owner’s name and details, information on the vehicle and the address that vehicle is registered to. For example, an in-car system operating from a police vehicle can read the number plates of every vehicle that drives past. Number plate information is then quickly processed to alert the police to vehicles or persons of interest. These alerts can cover anything from unpaid speeding fines, the possibility of an unlicensed driver operating a vehicle or a car’s involvement in a major crime.

In more complex cases, the management of digital evidence can be challenging. An integrated security platform that can store and correlate number plate data with other information such as facial recognition can help investigators. Faced with shrinking resources and a changing crime landscape, police departments need to find ways to keep on top of events as they happen and respond faster in emergency situations.

Law enforcement agencies now have access to more data than ever before. As well as data they collect from in-vehicle cameras and surveillance cameras in known trouble spots, police can receive footage from privately owned security cameras, dash cams and other sources. While they may be data rich, police often struggle to use that data to create useful information and insight.

To break down the silos that exist between the different data sources, police forces and law enforcement agencies need to explore unified platforms that can integrate data from disparate systems such as surveillance video, number plate data, access control as well as computer-aided dispatch applications.

 Real-time crime centres (RTCCs) are now emerging as a cost-effective, efficient technology to increase public safety. They help police departments increase situational awareness and officer safety, and solve cases faster at a time when resources are stretched.

RTCCs collect, manage and integrate data including number plate details, security footage from live video surveillance feeds, computer-aided dispatch calls and offender criminal history databases. An RTCC brings together data streams and operations across departments and presents information in meaningful ways, such as on maps, and disseminates timely information to law enforcement. An RTCC gives law enforcement personnel insights in real time through a single pane of glass.

 A number plate recognition solution that is unified with other core applications and data sources is a powerful tool for police and law enforcement agencies. It aids in investigations, helps to solve cases faster and helps manage evidence more efficiently.

Image credit: Gomina

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