New tech changes face of policing

The yellow VK Holden Commodore is part of the Victoria Police Historical Society’s collection of artefacts. Picture: SENIOR CONSTABLE DANIEL GREEN

By Gabriella Payne

We’ve come a long way in the last 35 years, with life-changing inventions such as the internet and the iPhone catapulting society into the twenty-first century – and these technological advancements are also helping improve safety on our roads.

The bright yellow VK Holden Commodore pictured was used by Victoria Police between 1984 and 1986.

It’s a stark contrast to today’s state-of-the-art BMWs and the technology they have to offer.

The newest additions to Victoria Police’s highway patrol come equipped with automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) technology, which can scan thousands of number plates per shift, a huge improvement on what police used to rely on.

Senior Constable Daniel Green from Cardinia Highway Patrol, which covers parts of the south east, said that since the rollout of ANPR technology in 2019 he and his unit had noticed how beneficial this technology was.

“The ANPR enables us to check vehicle registrations in quick succession, with the capability to check vehicle registrations at the rate of about 5000 per shift, whereas prior to that, everything was manually entered on a computer database in the vehicles and you could check maybe 200 in a shift,” Sen. Const. Green said.

“It scans number plates and checks for disqualified, suspended and unlicensed drivers and immediately alerts us through one of the four cameras on the roof of the vehicle, so it definitely makes our job easier.”

Senior Constable Green said that the ANPR technology helped to improve road safety and believed it would continue to advance in years to come.

“With the roll out of the new BMWs and Mercedes highway patrol vehicles that we’ve got, the technology is only getting better and assisting us in performing our role to remove drug and alcohol affected drivers from the road,” he said.

As well as detecting unregistered vehicles and suspended drivers, the ANPR technology is helping police detect many more stolen vehicles than in the past.

“Because it can scan so many registrations per shift, we’re also recovering a lot more stolen vehicles that are just parked on the side of the road,” Sen. Const. Green said.

“So we can essentially have cars flagged and the ANPR will alert us if someone else is driving the vehicle.”

Thanks to this revolutionary technology, Victoria police hope to continue driving down the state’s road death toll and working towards their “road to zero” goal.

If technological advancements continue to improve as they have done, who knows what police vehicles of the future may look like!

One thing’s for sure though, this blast from the past is a timely reminder of how far we’ve come.

The VK Holden Commodore is part of the Victoria Police Historical Society’s collection of artefacts, which aims to preserve the history of Victoria’s policing into the future.

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