Late-night gigs have gone without a ruckus for one Whangārei bar - and it could be all down to Stan.
Stan is the Butter Factory's own nickname for a photo-identifying scanning system which has been used at the front entrance to the bar over the last six weeks. It is the first of its kind for the city, but since its introduction other local late-night establishments are keen to jump on board. However, the price of the device is proving a deterrent.
The cost is $2,500 up front, plus $700 a month. It scans IDs and takes photographs of patrons as they enter the premises. If there is any trouble over the night, security cameras are consulted and the person's identity is obtained from the system. It also works in tandem with other bars who adopt the system and can red-flag anyone who has been barred from an establishment. Otherwise, the information is subsequently deleted.
Butter Factory owner Luke Revell said although it was early days, the technology seemed to be working well for their live music events.
"It's going good. I do think the dramas that we've had inside the bar have pretty much gone to zero now. We haven't had any fights and we've kicked out a couple of people for sneaking their own drinks in and put them in the system and it will come up on the screen the next time.
"We're at the six-week mark and, if we did go that far without a fight before the system, it was a good period so it's looking like it's (because of Stan)."
He said, on average, there would have been a fight every three to four weeks.
Aside from the drink-smuggling, the only other incident was when a patron had ordered drinks and said the person in queue behind him was paying, who then transpired to be unknown to him.
Their identities had been revealed from their scanned images and Revell said it comes down to attitude whether return offenders are let back on the premises.
All patrons, except one, had happily handed over their identification at the gate.
"Everybody's heard of it and they know they can't get away with anything because we know exactly who they are. It keeps everybody else safe as well and everybody can go and enjoy their night out."
Revell had already ordered the security measure before finding himself caught up in a late-night altercation down the road from his bar, which resulted in a death in May. He was in his ute at the Bank St lights when the altercation spilled into the road and surrounded him. This resulted in him fast-tracking the set-up of the device to help keep patrons and staff on the premises safe and he was hoping other bars would adopt the system as it allowed information sharing, benefiting all bars.
So far, Jovial Judge was also installing the scanning system, with several other local bars interested, but they were struggling to fund it. They had approached Whangārei District Council (WDC) to have the system subsidised.
But WDC health and bylaws manager Reiner Mussle told the Advocate that while WDC supported the venture, they were unable to help with funding for commercial entities.
"Early indications are that the use of this system by Butter Factory has had a positive impact on their operations," said Mussle.
"Police and council's Alcohol Licensing Inspectorate have already agreed to support
its rollout among high-risk alcohol-licensed premises such as bars and taverns, especially in the CBD."
However, he said neither WDC's Licensing Inspectorate nor its Community Development team could fund commercial entities such as bars and taverns.
"For the inspectorate, our budgets are restricted to our functions under the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act, which unfortunately does not allow us to fund private commercial activities such as this. Similarly, for Community Development these are not charitable organisations and they would not be able to access our community funding mechanisms."
McMorrissey's Irish Pub and Eatery bar manager Amitesh Chandra was hoping to have the system installed but was looking at ways to fund it.
"We have a lot of security inside the bar but it would help with more control of the environment," he said, adding that, on average, there was one fight a month.
"The only problem is the cost of leasing it. We will have to look into the expenses side."
He said it would help pick up on fake IDs and the "wrong crowd who cause drama".
Another concern Chandra had was that it would put the problems out on the street.
"There will be fighting on the street and the blame will go on the bar again."
The Fox Bar owner Mike Beazley said he would be all for the system but it was too big an expense for his small bar to justify. The Water St establishment drew mostly an older crowd aged 30-plus but had its regulars in their 20s keen on the DJ music and "partyoke".
"I'm all for it, and think we would benefit from it if somebody created a drama in another bar and got kicked out that night and tried to come to my bar, and vice-versa.
"We can have months of nothing (disturbance) and then, all of a sudden, two weekends in a row sometimes. It would average to about once a month. It's when the girls fight, then guys step in as well and it blows up, that's what I've noticed. In saying that, it's not very often."
Beazley said he would have been happy to acquire the technology if it was subsidised and he was able to pay it back.
"I'm only a little bar and it's definitely out of my price range. I can't afford to splash money around like that but if I could get it I would use it."
He was planning to stick to his method of diffusing a situation by turning on the lights and shutting down the music.
"Some weekends are brilliant and it's such a good buzz but, other weekends, dirt bags come out with attitudes and it's a horrible night. I just want to see everybody go out and enjoy themselves."
Revell said the scanner was only brought out for events that drew the younger crowds, such as international DJs.
"Some weekends we don't use it at all but last weekend we used it both Friday and Saturday night and we will use it both times this weekend as well. We can pretty much gauge what the demographics will be on a particular night."
The system accepts New Zealand driver licenses, passports and 18-plus Kiwi Access cards.