More people are being called in to the nearest police station to settle traffic fines, according to media reports, with much of the credit going to the recently-installed smart licence plate scanner.
Police recently installed automatic number-plate recognition systems (ANPR) in a number of their patrol vehicles, which enable officers to scan the area and locate possibly stolen cars. But police officers are also scanning the area for vehicles registered to drivers who owe traffic fines, such as long due speeding tickets or a backlog of unpaid parking violations.
According to daily Phileleftheros, police have flagged down drivers who owed traffic fines and escorted them to the nearest police station to settle their dues.
In the past, officers could call in a licence plate in question to find out whether there were any outstanding warrants or fines, but ANPR scans for vehicles and automatically flags them
The ANPR system can also alert officers whether there are arrest warrants against drivers in the area around the patrol vehicle or even if a car or motorcycle is uninsured.
It was not clear whether drivers could be detained or given a chance to settle the fines, but police say traffic officers focus on people who owe €300 or more. But critics in the past said it might be unfair to those who may not be able to pay on the spot.
In the past, officers could call in a licence plate in question to find out whether there were any outstanding warrants or fines. But ANPR allows officers to focus on other tasks and the system scans for vehicles and automatically flags them if anything is out of the ordinary.
But private citizens were not the only ones to be called out on unpaid tickets. Recently, police officers were also identified as having outstanding fines, although it was not clear whether the ANPR had flagged their vehicles.
About 85 police officers who owed a total of €200,000 in fines, along with 15 prison guards owing €11,000, were brought to the attention of the police chief following a report by the state’s auditor general.
Traffic police are also expected to gain more authority next year, including ordering a vehicle to be towed away or even confiscating driver’s licences.
A bill granting more power to cops on the street is expected to head to the House before the year is out, where steeper fines will also be included in the legislation such as €300 out-of-court fine for using a non-hands-free mobile device or not wearing a seatbelt.