Gardaí have been forced to suspend a key part of one of their road traffic enforcement IT systems.

The move comes after errors in a database led to hundreds of thousands of drivers being wrongly identified as having failed to pay their car insurance.

The database is part of the Automatic Number Plate Recognition system, or ANPR, which the force acquired for an estimated €6 million.

Documents seen by RTÉ's This week illustrate that the database was "pulled" last year after flaws in the data led to more than one million "hits" for non-payment of motor insurance.

Problems with the garda system emerged in notes of a meeting between gardaí and officials at the Departments of Transport and Justice.

The handwritten note recorded by a Department of Transport senior official appears to blame motor insurance companies for failing to update the database properly.

It says that there was an "issue with insurance companies not notify [sic] of part payment of cover. Database had to be pulled - members not managing data properly. Getting 1.1 million hits for no insurance - this is not logical".

The latest figures from the Central Statistics Office show there are around 2.4 million licensed vehicles in the State.

This means that the number of hits for non-payment of insurance on the garda IT system was almost half the entire number of vehicles on Irish roads.

Insurance industry studies generally point to the number of uninsured vehicles being around 6% of the country's total number.

This would mean that around 900,000 of those hits for non-payment were false.

The body which represents motor insurers, Insurance Ireland, declined to comment.

However, gardaí confirmed that they were aware of the problem.

It is unclear how many drivers may have been pulled over by garda patrols as a result of the incorrect data hits.

It is also unclear how long the database has been suspended for; or what the financial cost of the error has been for insurers, gardaí or road users.

Garda reaction to statement

Garda HQ responded with a brief statement to a series of questions submitted by RTÉ's This Week.

"An Garda Síochána is aware of an issue in relation to certain insurance related data on the ANPR system. We are working with all the partner stakeholders to resolve the issue," the Garda Press Office told RTÉ News.

Gardaí say they do not believe these issues had impacted on roads policing enforcement and that 6,700 prosecutions were instigated for no insurance to date this year.

The Departments of Justice and Transport both declined to comment as they said it was a garda operational matter.

ANPR systems have become popular with police worldwide in recent years and are generally considered to be sophisticated and valuable road traffic enforcement tools when managed correctly.

It is designed around one piece of in-car hardware and several inter-linked databases.

The hardware device is fitted into a police car, and it scans number plates on passing vehicles while the police vehicle is on patrol.

These number plates are then cross-referenced against several databases to determine whether they are suspect, stolen, untaxed or uninsured.

There is no indication of concerns with the accuracy of data on the other databases tied into the ANPR system, other than the motor insurance file.