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The Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs of Georgia, Archil Talakvadze, on air on GDS, talked about the new traffic regulations. Mr Talakvadze stated: "We are introducing the contactless patrolling system which is used in Europe and which we like very much. Why do those citizens not violate their traffic rules when the police are not around? Because they know that there is contactless patrolling and that the state might fine them for making violations. Contactless patrolling means that special GPS devices detect the time and the exact place of your violation by means of a satellite. Your violation is recorded, transferred to the police and then you receive a fine."

FactCheck

took interest in the topic.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia drafted a road safety project at the end of last year. The project includes the following components:  improved oversight of the main causes of road accidents, vehicle renewal incentives and the introduction of mobile speed radar (the so-called contactless patrolling). Additionally, the project also incorporates activities of improving the monitoring of public transportation and making stricter legislation vis-à-vis ensuring pedestrian safety (see the link). Contactless patrolling, also known as mobile speed radar, is one of the means available for the regulation of traffic and envisages the detection of a violation, the identification of the vehicle involved and the provision of a fine to the owner of the vehicle without stopping the driver. In some instances, too, drivers are pulled over and fined at the scene of the violation although this depends upon country-specific practice. At the present moment, all of the radar devices and cameras which are in place to control road safety in Georgia are stationary and can be identified by means of road signs and mobile applications. However, under contactless patrolling, drivers do not have information about the locations of the surveillance devices. Unmarked police cars will be equipped with GPS devices enabling them to move the cameras to different places according to a previously determined schedule known only to the police. When the violation of a traffic rule occurs, a photo/video recording will be made and the material uploaded to the website of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. A citizen will be able to verify the violation as well as make an appeal (see the link).

On 15 March 2016, Deputy Ministers of Internal Affairs, Archil Talakvadze and Shalva Khutsishvili, held a meeting with NGOs on the topic of contactless patrolling. In particular, they discussed the police practice in five countries (the Netherlands, Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom and France) which use the aforementioned form of surveillance for the regulation of traffic. At the discussion which followed the presentation, the NGOs paid particular attention to the issues of possible violations of privacy and human rights during contactless patrolling. The NGOs stated that the contactless patrolling system might pose a threat in the sense that the cameras could be used to target specific individuals. However, the representatives of the Ministry of Internal Affairs believe that the introduction of the contactless patrolling system is aimed only at improving road safety but they are ready to have additional consultations and make respective amendments to the law (adding a necessary article or creating a council to monitor similar issues after the introduction of contactless patrolling) should any violations of privacy emerge. Messrs Talakvadze and Khutsishvili specified that mobile cameras will only identify a vehicle’s license plate number and not the driver or the passengers. According to their statement, the draft law which was submitted to the Parliament of Georgia in December 2015 will be amended during Parliamentary hearings. It is currently unknown when the regulation about contactless patrolling will enter into force.

FactCheck

studied the practice of using mobile speed detectors throughout different European countries. Almost every one of them uses stationary cameras, installed along road and motorways and identified by special signs, to regulate speed and ensure safety. The following countries are using mobile surveillance cameras:

United Kingdom – The United Kingdom is one of the most obvious examples in terms of the usage of safety cameras. There are several stationary and mobile video cameras (see the link)

which the UK government uses to improve road safety.

France – Since 2015, road safety regulations have become much stricter in France. The stricter policy encompasses several components, including the increased quantity of stationary speed cameras. Additionally, there are plans to expand the practice of the usage of the existing mobile speed cameras (see the link). Germany

– Mobile speed detectors are widely used in Germany and the owner of a vehicle committing a traffic violation is fined without stopping the driver (according to the information of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia, plans are to implement the German model of contactless patrolling in the country).

Netherlands – The Netherlands is one of the few countries with contactless patrolling where traffic monitoring is carried out by the police travelling by car or by motorcycle (see the link). Spain – The usage of stationary and mobile speed detectors is widely practiced in Spain. Drivers do not know the location of the hundreds of radar devices installed throughout the entire country. However, statements were made at the beginning of 2015 about making the locations of the mobile cameras public (see the link). Denmark – Denmark also widely uses mobile speed cameras on its roads. The positive results garnered from the pilot project encouraged the Danish government to implement the practice of mobile speed radar devices countrywide (see the link). Poland – Since 2011, the automatic speed detection system has started to develop rapidly. The system, apart from the different means focused upon the improvement of road safety, also includes the development of the practice of the usage of both stationary and mobile cameras (see the link). Bulgaria – Bulgaria belongs to the group of those countries which uses mobile speed cameras to detect traffic violations. Considering the fact that drivers can recognise the cameras attached to police cars, mobile cameras are also installed in unmarked police cars as well (see the link). From non-European countries, of additional mention is Australia which widely uses mobile speed cameras together with stationary speed cameras. Australian policemen use cameras on their police cars as well as carry them manually which means that drivers are not aware of the surveillance (see the link).

The detection devices are used in zones which have been determined as particularly dangerous.

Conclusion

European countries widely use stationary safety/speed cameras and a video fine system which is also practiced in Georgia. In regard to mobile detectors (the so-called contactless patrolling), this is not a universally implemented system in Europe although it is practiced in France, the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Denmark, Poland and Bulgaria.

FactCheck will continue to monitor this topic in the future as well (especially in the context of the protection of human rights and privacy). At the present moment, we conclude that Archil Talakvadze’s statement: "The contactless patrolling system, which we are introducing, is practiced across Europe," is MOSTLY TRUE.

Editor’s Note: The initial version of this article was published on 14 March 2016. On 15 March 2016, the Deputy Ministers of Internal Affairs met with NGO representatives to discuss the contactless patrolling system and the respective law. FactCheck also attended this meeting and we present our readers with a revised version of this article which includes the information from the aforementioned discussion.