SSC Seminar -- Patrick Derby

Patrick Derby

PhD Candidate
Department of Sociology
Queen’s University

Automatic Licence Plate Recognition:

Explorations of an Emerging Police Checkpoint Technology

Thursday, March 18th
12:30pm to 1:30pm
Mackintosh-Corry Hall, Room D-411

On one hand, the automobile represents freedom and escape. On the other hand, the automobile and the mobility it facilitates are perceived as sources of potential risk and insecurity. As such, the state has long sought to govern and control the use of vehicles and their operators through various means. Police roadblocks have long been used as checkpoints to verify sobriety and vehicle documentation, as well as fight crime. However, neither criminology nor surveillance studies have paid significant attention to the use of this law enforcement technique. This paper addresses this lacuna by exploring the use of police checkpoints, giving specific attention to an emerging technology - Automatic Licence Plate Recognition (ALPR).

After introducing the concept of the security checkpoint and its common characteristics, the use of roadblocks within the context of policing are examined. Today, ALPR, used in conjunction with designated police intercept teams, has allowed for the development of barrier-free police checkpoints. The paper also examines ALPR in relation to various surveillance studies themes and debates, including privacy and data protection, resistance, identity negotiation, and discretion.

Everyone welcome!