Roving camera to nab fine defaulters

A new high-tech mobile numberplate recognition camera will soon be hitting the streets to target hard-core fine and infringement defaulters where they work and where they shop. Attorney General Michael Mischin said the State Government had called a tender for a mobile licence plate recognition camera, which would either be hand-held or mounted on a sheriff’s vehicle.

Mr Mischin said the camera would be the latest tool in a range of measures to target the State’s worst fine defaulters, who owe more than $279million to the Western Australian community.

“Vehicles are most commonly clamped when they are parked at someone’s home, however this can be quite limiting as people take their cars to work or go out during the day,” he said.

“Also, the addresses for some hard-core fine and infringement defaulters are not always current, and sometimes those defaulters deliberately don’t park their vehicles on their own property to avoid being clamped.

“The sheriff will use the camera in busy areas during the working day, such as shopping centres, train stations and the main streets of country towns where the wheel clamping laws are in force.

“From the sheer volume of cars scanned, we expect to catch fine and infringement defaulters who would otherwise avoid detection. This is about reclaiming millions of dollars which rightfully belongs to WA taxpayers, who have been footing the bill for this small group of hardcore fine dodgers for too long.”

In August last year, new laws came into force which allowed sheriff’s officers to wheel-clamp vehicles, seize licence plates and other property, and ‘name and shame’ fine defaulters.  Since then, 421 wheel clamps have been applied and 362 licence plates have been removed.  More than $70.8million has been recovered - a 12 per cent increase on the same period the previous year when $63.4million was paid.

Last month, the State Government expanded the program to the Peel and South-West regions. The Government has also launched an SMS trial in Ellenbrook and Albany, contacting fine and infringement defaulters via text message to warn them that they could face wheel clamping, licence plate removal or have property seized if they did not pay their debt.