Garda plan could use drones and see fines paid at roadside in Limerick

Maria Flannery


Maria Flannery

Limerick’s Chief Superintendent David Sheahan is one of the main figures spearheading the initiative

Limerick’s Chief Superintendent David Sheahan is one of the main figures spearheading the initiative

GARDAI could soon be using drones and taking fine payments at the roadside, in a new technology-led project that is due to be piloted in the future.

The Active Mobility Project will be championing the use of mobile phones and specially designed technology to “bring the guard back into the community” and cut down on the amount of paperwork that needs to be done back at base.

Limerick’s Chief Superintendent David Sheahan is one of the main figures spearheading the initiative. It’s understood that Limerick will be included in the pilot, which does not have an official roll-out date.

A promotional video offering a glimpse into the future was shown at a recent joint policing committee meeting, during which Chief Supt Sheahan said that the project would be “revolutionary” for the force.

“What this is trying to do is show the potential of where technology could go. The whole concept of going digital from an operational perspective is to mobilise every member of An Garda Síochána,” he said.

“That will require a cultural shift, so rather than doing our work at the station, we can do our work in the community,” he added.

Mobile phones will be used with specialist software which will allow gardaí to do a large majority of their ‘paperwork’ on the go.

The aim of this is to allow patrolling gardaí to continue their work in the heart of the community, instead of being stuck under paperwork at the garda station.

The meeting heard about the potential to use camera drones, to fly into an unknown situation ahead of any officers.

The garda cars of the future will have a screen on which gardaí will be able to watch the movements of the drone, to verify any potentially dangerous situations around the corner.

Victims of a crime will be able to use a 999 app to notify the control centre. When the victim presses a 999 button, a task comes into the control centre, which is then assigned to the nearest officer.

The officer would receive a notification, and a GPS map would guide them to the victim, who would then be able to give a statement on the spot using the new garda mobile device stations on the officer’s phone.

The garda would no longer have to waste valuable time bringing a victim to the station to make a statement, and the victim would be able to sign the statement digitally.

For traffic policing, a garda would be able to take a photo of a number plate and receive all the details of the vehicle and driver, including insurance cover and penalty points.

If there’s a penalty charge, the garda will be able to accept immediate payment via NFC, and a mobile printer would produce a receipt right at the roadside.

Wearable cameras would also be part of the new project – a technology which could provide “protection” for gardaí.

Chief Supt Sheahan said: “I believe we are there with the way technology is now.”