Hundreds of thousands of drivers wrongly identified as having failed to pay their car insurance
Hundreds of thousands of drivers have been wrongly identified as having failed to pay their car insurance - forcing Gardaí to suspend the use of one of their key IT systems.
The computer network was acquired by the gardai for about €6m and is part of the Automatic Number Plate Recognition, or ANPR, system.
But database errors led to the incorrect designation of the drivers involved.
Difficulties were highlighted in a meeting between officials at the Departments of Transport and Justice and gardai.
A handwritten note, which was recorded by a senior official in the Department of Transport, appears to blame motor insurance companies for failing to update the database properly.
It said that there was an issue “with insurance companies not notify [sic] of part payment of cover. Database had to be pulled - members not managing data properly. Getting 1.1 million hits for no insurance - this is not logical.”
It is unclear how many drivers were monitored by garda patrols as a result of the incorrect data information.
It is also not known for what length of time the database was suspended, or what was the financial cost of the error for the various parties involved.
Garda HQ replied to a series of questions submitted by RTÉ’s ‘This Week’ programme, which obtained the note.
“An Garda Siochana is aware of an issue in relation to certain insurance related data on the ANPR system. We are working with all the partner stakeholders to resolve the issue,” it said.
The latest figures from the Central Statistics Office show there are about 2.4 million licensed vehicles in the State.
This meant the number of hits for non-payment of insurance on the garda IT system was almost half the entire number of vehicles on Irish roads.
Insurance industry studies suggest the number of uninsured vehicles is around 6pc of the total number, which would mean that around 900,000 of those hits for non-payment were false.
The body which represents motor insurers said it had no comment to make. ANPR systems are generally considered to be valuable enforcement tools when managed correctly.