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Highway Patrol Unit speeds to a thousand arrests in its first year

The Traffic Service’s Highway Patrol Unit (HPU) hit the streets in October 2022. In the first 12 months, the unit has averaged 85 arrests per month and has also blazed a trail in the Safety and Security Directorate’s ongoing technology rollout.

The Highway Patrol Unit has accounted for 27% of all arrests made by the Traffic Service since it took to the streets in October 2022.

The unit has grown from 25 officers at inception, to 33 currently, with 12 more set to join by early December.

Their key priorities are roving patrols on major routes around the city, working closely with other Traffic Service units and fellow enforcement services.

Over a 12 month period, officers made 1 023 arrests for various offences.

Total offences 106 147
Arrests 1 023
Vehicles discontinued 799
Vehicles Impounded 939
Cell phone Impounds 1 922

‘The statistics are very encouraging, and already we are seeing a decline in incidents along some of the deployed routes. Apart from tackling errant motorists, the officers are also proving to be a valuable resource for other offences and crimes. Just recently, HPU officers recovered nearly a thousand mandrax tablets during a traffic stop on the N1. And, their presence is even more critical, particularly to motorists who find themselves stranded on the highways – an occurrence that has become all too common in recent years.

‘The HPU are also early adopters of the in-vehicle camera technology as well as the body-worn cameras that form part of the Safety and Security Directorate’s tech investment. Their experiences with these tools are incredibly useful for the wider rollout to other units and departments,’ said Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security, Alderman JP Smith.

To date, 33 vehicles have been installed with front and rear facing cameras, as well as Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras.

The cameras are not only able to capture evidence, but also provide live feeds to enhance situational awareness.

In one incident, a taxi driver refused to stop, drove in a reckless manner and managed to get away. Officers were able to identify the vehicle thanks to the captured footage, and impounded the vehicle the next day.

‘The impact of the Highway Patrol Unit cannot be underestimated, and as we increase the staff complement, we expect to see even greater returns from this team. It has been a welcome boost to our existing resources, and will be an integral part of our enforcement efforts heading into the festive season,’ added Alderman Smith.

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