Bar patrons are being scanned and photographed as managers seek to keep out the rabble and take note of the regulars.
A new technology that scans and records photo IDs - as well as taking additional photos of revellers - is being trialled throughout the lower North Island.
There are three ID scanning machines in the country, with two in Auckland and the third being moved around from Wellington to Hawke's Bay.
So far the security system has been used on patrons at Trinity Group bars Cambridge Hotel in Wellington, the Empire Hotel in Palmerston North, and Turks Bar in Havelock North.
The ID-checking systems have the support of the bars, but the Office of the Privacy Commissioner has questioned their credentials.
Jeremy Smith, managing director of Trinity Group, said the machines were useful for keeping tabs on party crowds.
"Overall the response from the bar staff has been good. It's got some really good features in terms of allowing staff to verify that people are who they say they are."
The scanner - which he said would not work for every bar because of its "large and cumbersome" size - includes a monitor, which can blow up ID images; a camera, to take additional photos for comparison; and a scanner.
The scanner is used to identify fraudulent IDs, and to record who has entered a bar and how many times a single ID card is used.
"We like the idea . . . Over time we think it could be quite a useful device."
Mr Smith said if all the bars in Wellington used the scanners, troublesome revellers could be banned from town.
Wellington area tactical co-ordinator Senior Sergeant Hamish Milne said the scanners could be useful for police wanting to track down witnesses.
But a spokeswoman for the privacy commissioner said the scanners raised a number of concerns.
"You have to play by the rules. If these bars are collecting the information through scanning, they have to be clear and upfront as to exactly why they're doing so.
"Are people given an option? People who are concerned about the collection of their personal information may have justifiable reasons - does the bar make allowances for this?"
Bars must ensure no-one could access the stored data for any reason other than security on the premises, she said.
ID Scanner director Thomas Rawson said another two machines had been ordered from overseas.
The machines are targeted at clubs with high turnover and large crowds.
The scanner can:
- read more than 2600 documents, such as passports, visas, driver's licences and ID cards
- calculate age
- detect double entries or duplicate documents being used (ID sharing)
- record top 200 customers
- calculate male to female ratio in the bar, and their average ages
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