Gardaí drop vehicle insurance database after errors

Gardaí have had to drop a motor insurance database after it wrongly recorded almost half of all vehicles as being without insurance.

The motor insurance IT database enables garda vehicles attached with an automatic number plate- recognition system to scan and identity vehicles that do not have insurance.

According to documents obtained by the RTÉ This Week programme, the system had to be “pulled” because it was not being managed properly.

The problem with the system was revealed at a high-level meeting last December of officials from the departments of justice and transport, as well as senior gardaí and executives from the Road Safety Authority.

An official at the meeting recorded senior gardaí as saying there was “an issue with insurance companies not notifying part payment of cover”.

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As a result, members were “not managing data properly” and the database was generating 1.1 million hits for no insurance.

The note records that this level of hits “was not logical”. Given there are 2.4m licence vehicles on the road, this would indicate almost half of all vehicles are not insured.

The motor insurance database was added in recent years to the automatic number plate recognition- system, which was acquired by the gardaí in 2010 for a cost of around €6m.

The technology scans registration plates and is attached to patrol vehicles. It is primarily used to locate vehicles suspected to have been used in a crime or which are stolen.

There is no information of any issues with these systems.

The information on the motor insurance database is understood to be supplied and updated by the motor insurance companies.

No records are available as to how many vehicles were checked on foot of a hit of no insurance coming back through the system. Visual checks would establish that the vehicles were insured, but the procedure would take up time and resources of gardaí and cause confusion and concern for motorists.

The Garda Press Office said they were aware of the problem and were working with all relevant parties to resolve it.

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