Bar patrons scanned before entry

By Amelia Wade

Technology to check and verify ID pictures is helping Auckland pubs keep their customers honest.

The Prospect of Howick bar uses an ID scanner to identify underage drinkers. Photo / Supplied
The Prospect of Howick bar uses an ID scanner to identify underage drinkers. Photo / Supplied

Auckland bars are forcing customers to have their picture identification scanned and a separate picture taken before they are allowed entry on busy weekend nights.

Viaduct pub Danny Doolan's has installed machines that store images and check ID authenticity following an increase in bar thefts.

And a Howick bar has also fitted the system to deter minors from trying to gain entry.

The machines are similar to a network widely used in bars in the UK, the US and Australia, which allow all those connected to cross-reference if those trying to gain entry have been refused at another establishment.

The scanners, which recognise 3000 forms of picture ID, have been welcomed by police but the Hospitality Association said it would need to investigate the privacy issues around the devices before giving them their support.

For now, the system helps Danny Doolan's identify people who have already been refused or kicked out, said owner Geoff Tuttle.

"Because it can get so dark and so packed in here, it was really good for pointing out repeat offenders."

Mr Tuttle said the scanner recognises fake IDs, keeps track of the number of punters and increases the safety of everyone in their bar.

Danny Doolan's uses the machine on Friday and Saturday, when up to 700 people pass through the doors.

The Prospect of Howick owner, Barry O' Shaughnessy, said: "We have a regular crowd of young people who like to come here, so word spreads fast around the under-agers that they're not going to get in."

ID Scanners' director, Thomas Rawson, said: "It makes every person that goes into a venue accountable for their actions ... and it will only become more effective as more bars pick it up."

Mr Rawson said people were able to have their details removed from the system by writing to the bar or his company directly, as long as there had not been an incident.

He said the system was voluntary but a venue may decline entry if subjects refused the terms.

The Hospitality Association's Jill Davey said one of the key issues was around people's privacy.

The Privacy Commissioner's office said bars had to be clear exactly why they were doing it and should not hold on to information longer than necessary. In addition, anyone who does not need to see the scans should not have access to them.

- NZ Herald

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