What is Automated Licence Plate Recognition?

The Guelph Police Service has been using automated licence plate recognition since 2015, with one vehicle assigned to our Traffic Services Unit. In the summer of 2023, with financial assistance from the Province of Ontario, the Guelph Police Service began using Automated Licence Plate Recognition (ALPR) cameras on all of its patrol vehicles. This technology can quickly capture and match large numbers of licence plate numbers to lists of plates stored in a database. This technology makes it more difficult for suspended or prohibited drivers, drivers of stolen cars and other vehicles with plates in poor standing – such as those registered to wanted individuals or plates with expired validations - to drive undetected.


How does ALPR work?

The system relies on a “hotlist” of licence plates for which officers should be on the lookout. Police services can manually add plates to the list, which is also updated with lists provided by the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO) and the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC). The hotlists are stored in the ALPR database for comparison against scanned licence plates.

It should be noted the information stored in these lists is already available to our officers through local resources and from the MTO and CPIC if they manually run a licence plate. Use of the ALPR system makes the process more effective, but does not provide officers with access to any additional information.

If a licence plate scanned by an ALPR camera appears to match a plate on the hotlist, the officer is notified. Additional information about the vehicle and registered owner such as the make, model and colour of the vehicle and the name gender and date of birth of the owner is also provided.

The officer still must manually confirm a match before any enforcement action can be undertaken.



The Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario has released a document titled Guidelines on the Use of Automated Licence Plate Recognition Systems by Police Services. These guidelines help ensure use of the technology complies with privacy rules set out under the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.