Cape Town’s new tech-led highway patrol unit has already made more than 400 arrests in four months, the city said on Saturday.
The unit operates on Cape Town’s main arterial routes, where officers conduct patrols on a 24-hour basis. The project started in October last year and forms part of the mayoral priority programme to make the city safer by expanding safety resources and technology investments, it added.
“The unit’s role is to conduct visible patrols and provide assistance to road users, enforce traffic laws and respond to incidents detected through the freeway management system cameras.
“Safety technology investments underpin its success, with dashcams and automated number plate recognition (ANPR) technology fitted in vehicles. Our officers can automatically track motorists with outstanding warrants, spot duplicate or cloned licence plate and identify stolen vehicles or those used in a crime.
“This has led to 15 arrests in the new unit’s short lifespan for possession of stolen or hijacked vehicles. It is clear that a technology-based approach to crime-fighting multiplies the effectiveness of our officers. This unit is a part of the shift towards a 24-hour presence, which we are steadily expanding in key parts of the city,” said mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis.
During its first four months in operation, officers attached to the unit have made 416 arrests and recorded 28,870 offences. Of these, 56% were committed by drivers of public transport vehicles, he added. Among the arrests made were:
- 339 for driving under the influence;
- 25 for reckless and negligent driving;
- eight on multiple counts of DWI/reckless and negligent driving and other transgressions; and
- seven for the possession of drugs.
“These successes underscore the importance of investing not just in more visible policing resources, but also the accompanying technology to make our streets safer. It not only allows our officers to deal with incidents more swiftly, but also prevents unnecessary stops, as they’re able to sharpen their focus, thanks to the ANPR technology,” said mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith.
“The city is continuing its investment into resourcing the safety and security directorate and ensuring that our efforts are in line with international standards, in the interest of public safety, and the highway patrol unit is but one example of this. I am very pleased with the results thus far and look forward to even greater things from these officers, [and] our uniformed services in general.”
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