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Techno-Surveillance of the Roads: High Impact and Low Interest

NCJ Number
Crime Prevention and Community Safety Volume: 10 Issue: 1 Dated: 2008 Pages: 1-18
Claire Corbett
Date Published
18 pages
This article discusses the nature and impact of current and potential technology used in the surveillance of cars and drivers, with attention to Great Britain, and it discusses why criminology should provide contributions in this area.
Speed and red-light cameras encourage drivers to comply with traffic laws and controls at camera sites. The photo mechanism is activated only when drivers commit traffic offenses. There has been a general lack of resistance to and a complacent acceptance by the public of such surveillance systems. As an improvement on the Gaits speed camera that takes rear-facing photographs of speeding vehicles, new-style Truvelo cameras take front-facing photos, which have the benefit of identifying drivers so as to prevent guilty drivers from claiming that another person was driving. Camera photos of drivers can be compared to the photos on driving licenses. This raises the issue, however, of the camera observing other possible violations, such as the unlawful use of a cell phone while driving or the failure to wear a seatbelt. Another traffic technology being used is automatic number plate recognition (ANPR), which scans passing vehicle registration plates and checks them against various relevant databases. It can be deployed by intercept teams that wait for automated alerts that the approaching vehicle or its likely driver will be of interest to police. Research reports indicate that ANPR is proving to be an effective risk management strategy by denying criminals anonymous use of the roads. Criminology should pursue a greater focus on ways to address vehicle-related crime because it kills and injures a significant number of people, involves harmful antisocial behavior of drivers, has links to mainstream criminal behavior, involves risk-management strategies, and involves privacy concerns and expanded police interventions. 7 notes and 67 references