City bar staff like scanner

KATHRYN KING
Last updated 16:50 20/10/2012

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New identity scanning equipment aimed at keeping out underage and disruptive patrons has been welcomed by bar staff after a trial in Palmerston North's Empire Hotel.

But whether it will become a permanent fixture will come down to cost, the bar's owners say.

The scanning equipment, which scans and records photo IDs and takes a picture of customers using them has been on trial in Trinity Group bars throughout the lower North Island.

It was used in the Empire Hotel bar late last month, and joins two other scanning machines in operation in the country, both in Auckland.

The scanner checks IDs for age and legitimacy, and the photo is bought up on screen for the security staff to compare it with the picture just taken.

It can show all manner of details, including star signs, to help with the identification process, and can determine if an ID is fake or tampered with.

Patrons thrown out of the bar could be blacklisted on the system, and any other scanners networked to the same system would be notified.

Bar manager Dave Brown said the scanner was "really good" and said it would be very helpful in keeping underage or troublemaking patrons out of the bar.

It also had an added deterrent value, he said.

The scanner was set up on the bar's Main St door overnight on September 28 and 29, and anyone who looked under the age of 25 had their ID run though it.

Mr Brown had been concerned the scanner would slow down getting patrons in the door, but said it didn't appear to be a problem.

He said patrons did not appear to be bothered by it, with some asking questions and others wanting to go through it even when an age check wasn't required.

Trinity Group managing director Jeremy Smith said at $6000 each and a further $120 a week to run, whether or not the scanners were financially viable on a full-time basis had not been decided.

Underage drinkers using fake IDs to sneak into the group's facilities was a big problem, he said.

"It's a game for them, but we could face big fines and closures."

Privacy issues raised by the data the scanner captured would also have to be addressed, but it was not their intention to use the information for anything other than stopping underage people from getting into their bars, he said.

He was not interested in stockpiling data, and said there would have to be a good security system on the scanners so only managers could access the data, which would be automatically deleted after a time.

A statement sent to the Manawatu Standard by the Privacy Commission said like any other collection of personal information, rules had to be followed.

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The commission said bars using it should be upfront to patrons about the information being collected and how it would be used.

All the information had to be kept private - as misplaced identification details from driver's licences could be used by identity fraudsters - and should not be held indefinitely.

The scanner was now in Hawke's Bay and the trial would finish in the next few days.

- Manawatu Standard

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