Plymouth bars may get scanners to keep out troublemakers
ELECTRONIC scanners could be placed outside pubs and clubs in an effort to crack down on underage drinkers and other would-be troublemakers, writes Sam Blackledge.
The proposal was revealed by senior police officers as they met licensees to discuss the future of the city's late-night entertainment.
Chief Inspector Ian Drummond-Smith said the devices could be placed at the doors of Plymouth's busier night spots to help catch false IDs and spot drinkers who are already banned.
"They have worked well in other towns," he said. "Rather than doormen looking for IDs, because a lot of them can be false, you would put your ID on to a glass panel which scans it and decides whether it is fake or has been used to get into the club already.
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"On busy nights you sometimes get siblings using each other's IDs, and even good doormen can't get around that.
"It also catches out banned people, people with ASBOs. If they turn up and try to get in it will inform the door staff of their ban.
"We have asked the licensees to go away and consider it, and the community safety partnership is putting together some funding options."
If they were introduced, the hi-tech scanners would be paid for partly by the pubs and clubs and partly by the council. Some models, already in use in other areas, can even take scans of customers' thumbprints.
Pub bosses were told of the idea at a conference at Noah's Ark pub in Courtenay Street, which was organised by Devon and Cornwall Police along with Best Bar None, the accreditation scheme run by the licensed trade itself.
The scheme's chairman, Mick McDonnell, said: "It looked very positive.
"The technology is very good, I think it has been proven to work elsewhere in reducing crime and stopping troublemakers getting into the clubs.
"It looks very professional and I think the larger places will take it on.
"It collects information you can share with other venues. If there is an incident in Manchester you can share that data, so if that person were to come to Plymouth we would know.
"Of course there is a cost to it, so whether we can go beyond a pilot remains to be seen."
The conference also discussed the prospect of a controversial new late-night drinking levy and earlier closing times.
Plymouth City Council is preparing to launch a consultation on whether to introduce the new rules, and Mr McDonnell said licensees faced an anxious wait for more details.
"It's difficult," he said. "The traders want to know what's going on but no-one can tell anyone because we are in this pre-consultation phase.
"People are saying 'Are they going to enforce the levy?' but that decision has not been made yet.
"The traders obviously don't want this to happen, they are generally apprehensive about it."
The levy would be an annual fee paid by premises that want to stay open past midnight, while an Early Morning Restriction Order (EMRO) would force a blanket closing time on all bars in a specific location.
Chief Insp Drummond-Smith admitted the issue of the two proposed new rules was an "emotive" subject, but said it formed a small part of a wider discussion around the future of the city's night-life.
"Several licensees expressed reservations about the prospect of having to pay the levy," he added.
"But the council will go to consultation and licensees will be able to contribute to that discussion."