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RAPID results

By johnboy 5 July 2011 53

The full-time team operating ACT Policing’s number plate recognition system RAPID (Recognition and Analysis of Plates IDentified) has racked up one year in active service on ACT roads, reading over 856743 plates and quickly emerging as a major asset in the ongoing effort to reduce collisions and road trauma.

Over the financial year 2010-11, the six-person team has identified 1772 unregistered vehicles, and 780 vehicles without CTP (compulsory third party) insurance, as well as 474 unlicensed, 57 disqualified, and 148 suspended drivers.

Working in cooperation with ACT Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) inspectors, the RAPID team also identified 1213 defective vehicles.

In total, the RAPID team issued 4858 Traffic Infringement Notices (TIN’s) in its first full year of operation.

The Officer in Charge of Traffic Operations, Sergeant Jeff Knight, said that RAPID had proved itself as a first-rate asset to ACT road safety by identifying drivers who pose the greatest risk to others.

“We know that those drivers who do not pay their vehicle registration or CTP insurance, or continue to drive whilst unlicensed or disqualified, are risk-takers on our roads and are more likely to be involved in a serious collision,” Sergeant Knight said.

“In the financial year 2009-2010, we had 20 collisions involving fatalities. Seven of those fatalities – nearly one third – involved an unlicensed driver or an unregistered vehicle.

“In this financial year (2010-11), only one unlicensed driver on one unregistered vehicle – a quad bike – was involved in a fatal collision. And that particular collision occurred on a rural dirt road where RAPID does not operate.”

Sergeant Knight said that collisions with injury had also fallen markedly over the same period.

“Comparing the financial year 2009-10 with the 12 months just concluded, collisions with injury have fallen by 8 per cent,” Sergeant Knight said.

“There are major flow-on benefits for the territory and the community from this reduction in road trauma. Aside from the reduced pain and suffering for the victims and their families, fewer road crashes means less pressure on the hospitals, lower compensation payouts and less overall demand on government services.”

The RAPID team received dedicated funding from the ACT Government in the May 2010 Budget. A three-car RAPID team was then quickly established, operating on a full-time roster.

[Courtesy ACT Policing]

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Henry82 12:22 pm 08 Jul 11

CoffinRX2 said :

Its quite silly that the RAPID system only links up with ACT system, …. NSW cars dont appear to be picked up

I doubt things will change any time soon, not until we drop state licensing and move into one federal system.

CoffinRX2 12:52 am 08 Jul 11

Its quite silly that the RAPID system only links up with ACT system, …. NSW cars dont appear to be picked up

Spideydog 10:30 am 07 Jul 11

Spideydog said :

Presumption of innocence is not decided by a police officer, it is decided by a court of law. If you are merely a “suspect” you are still innocent until proven guilty and the burdon to prove YOUR guilt is 100% on the prosecution.

I should clarify as that was written badly, presumption of innocence is always there (and is not decided) the presumption of innocence only disappears after PROVEN guilty in court.

Spideydog 10:25 am 07 Jul 11

RedDogInCan said :

Precisely because it does change the presumption of innocence into a suspicion of guilt based on circumstantial evidence.

Absolute rubbish. You may want to learn the legal meaning of the presumption of innocence. Presumption of innocence is not decided by a police officer, it is decided by a court of law. If you are merely a “suspect” you are still innocent until proven guilty and the burdon to prove YOUR guilt is 100% on the prosecution.

Absolute paranoia ……..

RedDogInCan said :

The privacy issue isn’t so much to do with your location being recorded but with the potential to be suspected of something you had absolutely nothing to do with other than being in the vicinity at the time.

Okay then …….. what is the difference between you being near the scene of a crime (pure coincidence) and police either identify you at the time and speak with you, or you are identified another way, ie another person nominates you as being in the area or CCTV etc, etc and then police later knocking on the door to ask you about it????? ASK being the operative word. Are these scenario’s also infringing on your civil rights and invading your privacy by allegedly “changing the presumption of innocence” ?

Gerry-Built 10:13 am 07 Jul 11

RedDogInCan said :

For example, take the recent hit and run on the Monaro Highway. Everyone who was recorded as driving down that road at that time would be treated a suspect until they could prove their innocence.

At best, RAPID could be used to establish cars that were in a given area at a given time; helping to build a case once *actual* evidence is discovered. As far as I am aware, the presumption of innocence still exists… I’m sure any victim would appreciate *any* information that can help identify the perpetrator of a crime against them… the crims, not so much…

Gerry-Built 10:02 am 07 Jul 11

fernandof said :

For example, its probably possible to audit all accesses to the data and have a periodical review of those auditing record to ensure no unauthorised access was done. If privacy is not important and you’re happy to trust the police blindly because, as you put it “who’d want [to use the data unlawfully]?”, then kudos for you. I think we should trust the police to the same extend we trust any human being, i.e., it’s true most people are honest, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t put restricting mechanisms to ensure they are indeed acting honestly.

I’m comfortable with trusting government workers (being one myself, and knowing the expectations of Govt employees). But I agree that some sort of audit, as you’ve outlined, would be fair and reasonable, too…

I know of cases where CCTV footage has been used as evidence to establish that someone was in a particular area at a particular time, but at best, that sort of information is used to help build a case. I have no problem with RAPID data being used in the same way. I can’t think of a way RAPID data could be misused, but then, I certainly don’t think as a criminal would.

fernandof 8:03 am 07 Jul 11

pandaman said :

Is it just me or has there been a noticeable increase in the amount of cars parked on the side of the road with the plates removed in the last few months? I seem to see at least one every day and I’m only cruising round a few select suburbs.

Now that you mentioned it, I think you’re right. I’ll be looking for this kind of things now. In what suburbs have you noticed that? Maybe those are good areas to deploy RAPID patrols more regularly…

pandaman said :

If it’s the result of the RAPID system, good stuff!

+1 to that!

fernandof 7:58 am 07 Jul 11

Gerry-Built said :

fernandof said :

Clearly you know that without a reason, there’s absolutely no way anyone would be able to use the data.

honestly… who’d WANT to? You’d have to have a reason to look. Law abiding citizens still have naught to worry about.

Hopefully no one, but this is no reason to ignore serious risks to our privacy right.

I truly believe most police officers, just like most people in the world, are honest people who just want to do their job right. I also believe that police officers, just like the majority of the people in the world, would align their principles with the contextual community they serve, i.e., if the people of Australia ignore the right for privacy, the police officers of Australia would do the same. I don’t want that to happen.

Look, let’s take the RAPID system as an example. The RAPID system can be implemented & used in such a way that it will guarantee the privacy right, and it can be implemented & used in such a way that the privacy right is completely ignored. For example, its probably possible to audit all accesses to the data and have a periodical review of those auditing record to ensure no unauthorised access was done. If privacy is not important and you’re happy to trust the police blindly because, as you put it “who’d want [to use the data unlawfully]?”, then kudos for you. I think we should trust the police to the same extend we trust any human being, i.e., it’s true most people are honest, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t put restricting mechanisms to ensure they are indeed acting honestly.

Please note that I don’t know how the RAPID system is designed so I obviously can’t comment on how its doing its magic, or how privacy is handled by it. This is just an example to clarify the point I’m trying to make.

RedDogInCan 4:06 am 07 Jul 11

pandaman said :

Exactly what’s wrong with Officer Plod dropping round to ask if you know anything about the incident if you happened to be in the area at the time? You’re assuming that there would be an assumption of guilt and backing it up with no reasoning.

Precisely because it does change the presumption of innocence into a suspicion of guilt based on circumstantial evidence. Officer Plod isn’t going to be satisfied with a polite ‘I didn’t do it’ response. He’ll ask if you mind if he has a look around your stuff, something you’re quite within your rights to refuse but doing so won’t help prove your innocence. He’ll then ask if there is anyone who can verify your story and now he’s off talking to your neighbours, friends and work colleagues about some heinous crime you’re suspected of. You’ll always be a suspect until it can be proven someone else did it.

The privacy issue isn’t so much to do with your location being recorded but with the potential to be suspected of something you had absolutely nothing to do with other than being in the vicinity at the time.

pandaman 11:13 pm 06 Jul 11

RedDogInCan said :

p1 said :

It would be awesome if the police could type the location and time of a string of crimes, and the system could list any vehicles in those locations at the time.

Umm… isn’t this exactly the privacy concern people have – you automatically become a suspect just because you happen to be driving in the area at the time. Next thing you know Officer Plod drops around to ask a few questions and you find yourself having to explain why you are innocent.

For example, take the recent hit and run on the Monaro Highway. Everyone who was recorded as driving down that road at that time would be treated a suspect until they could prove their innocence.

Exactly what’s wrong with Officer Plod dropping round to ask if you know anything about the incident if you happened to be in the area at the time? You’re assuming that there would be an assumption of guilt and backing it up with no reasoning. I reckon that if the system has the potential to be used in this manner, it’s an even better idea than when all it did was pick up idiots who can’t handle the concept of annual registration fees.

Is it just me or has there been a noticeable increase in the amount of cars parked on the side of the road with the plates removed in the last few months? I seem to see at least one every day and I’m only cruising round a few select suburbs. If it’s the result of the RAPID system, good stuff!

Gerry-Built 9:12 pm 06 Jul 11

thatsnotme said :

What I do have a bit of a concern about though – and this is assuming that RAPID does actually retain more data than just ‘is this car registered and is the driver licensed’ – is the security of that stored data.

From my understanding (as seen on Stateline), all RAPID does is scans and reads plates, and then displays existing data from RTA and Police, in exactly the same way as they used to get that information by radioing it in, in times gone by. RAPID simply makes many, many more reads, and automates the data retrieval in a few seconds. It might store that number plate/location data; but again, this is simply no use unless they are looking for something afterward (ie establishing a pattern of behaviour or trying to prove that it was possible someone was somewhere at some point). All they (RAPID) are interested in at the time is unregistered vehicles, unlicensed drivers and roadworthy cars. The is always going to be the possibility of data being misused – but if anyone is going to misuse data; RAPID data sets would be pretty innocuous.

Gerry-Built 8:49 pm 06 Jul 11

fernandof said :

Clearly you know that without a reason, there’s absolutely no way anyone would be able to use the data.

honestly… who’d WANT to? You’d have to have a reason to look. Law abiding citizens still have naught to worry about.

thatsnotme 8:25 pm 06 Jul 11

Special G said :

Paranoid much.

The Police can pinpoint your position by pulling you over as well then recording the information in their notebook and uploading it to the system. They use RAPID to identify the people to spend their time talking to. Look at it as a screening system.

That’s not the point though. If the Police pull me over, they can tell where I was at the time that I was pulled over. RAPID lets them know where I was at that time, and potentially also where I was last week, and last month, etc etc.

Now personally, I’m not particularly concerned about the Police having that information, because as a law abiding citizen, I’m confident that knowing where I was a week ago won’t suddenly implicate me in any crimes.

What I do have a bit of a concern about though – and this is assuming that RAPID does actually retain more data than just ‘is this car registered and is the driver licensed’ – is the security of that stored data. I’d like to trust that the Police will be bound by privacy laws, and the rules if that information is used in any criminal case…but I really hope they’re securing that data well. I think about Sony, RSA, and a number of other organisations who have had data stolen in recent times, and begin to wonder about the wisdom of having a database in existence that basically pinpoints who was where, and when.

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