Around the World

These articles feature a comparative look at policing across the globe. 

Around the World 13.1

Source: From “Police use of technology to target drug users,” by Ronan O’Connell, July 2011. The Western Australian. Retrieved June 2012 from

“Western Australian police are using number-plate recognition technology to spot motorists with drug convictions and then subject them to roadside saliva testing and vehicle searches.” The technology is able to scan a vehicle plate and reveal convictions against the owner of the vehicle, outstanding warrants, and whether the owner has a valid driver’s license and valid vehicle license. Police determined that the prior convictions of the motorists met the standard of a reasonable suspicion required to conduct a search.

  1. Western Australian police report that the technology is assisting them in “intelligence-led” operations. Prior to the use of number-plate recognition technology, police stopped drivers “in a random manner.” However, one police minister is “not convinced that the police had the legal right to search private vehicles solely based on the basis that the driver had a drug conviction.” The U.S. Constitution provides a reasonable expectation of privacy. Do you believe that number-plate recognition technology constitutes a “reasonable” search? Explain.
  2. Do you believe that prior drug offenses provide sufficient reasonable suspicion to search a motorist’s vehicle? Why or why not?