Garda and PSNI to link systems
THE Garda and PSNI computerised licence-plate recognition systems are being linked together as part of the massive security exercise surrounding the G8 meeting of world leaders in Fermanagh next month.
Joining the "automated number plate recognition" (ANPR) systems would help end cross-Border drivers dodging penalty points outside their home jurisdictions, gardai say, as well as helping to identify vehicles used by dissident republicans on either side of the Border.
Although cross-Border co-operation declined after the Provisional IRA ended its campaign, the two forces will become more "inter-active" in preparation for the summit at the Lough Erne hotel complex which is only a few miles from the Border.
The potential threat to the conference, which is being hosted by British Prime Minister David Cameron and will be attended by US president Barack Obama, was highlighted in March when the PSNI foiled a van bomb plot that had targeted the hotel.
The PSNI last week outlined some of the security precautions being undertaken, which included the closure of roads around the venue from June 1 until the week after the meeting on June 17 and 18.
Both police forces will be brought closer together in the sharing of vehicle intelligence on suspected dissidents and, also the sharing of the computerised number plate systems.
Previously, Transport ministers Leo Varadkar and Alex Attwood said that the computer systems for penalty points would be joined by the end of 2014.
The problem of cross-Border speeders worsened with the building of motorways, particularly the M1, in the past decade.
Northern drivers who knew they could not be penalised have been using the M1 as a "race track", traffic gardai said.
The number-plate recognition systems can identify cars at a rate of six per second and include speed-detection software.
It has a database of vehicles associated with criminals and terror suspects and, gardai say, is a very valuable tool in fighting serious crime.
At present only 114 garda cars are equipped with the system and these will be in place along the Border during the security operation for the G8 meeting.