Police in Newcastle are set to introduce identity scans at city clubs and late-night bars as they target criminal gangs.
Commissioner Vera Baird said she wants to see a “club scan” system introduced, in which anyone stepping in to a nightclub has to provide a copy of their passport or driving licence, with police able to trawl through the list if any crime is reported.
Mrs Baird says the club scan system is vital if the city wants to tackle the groups of professional criminals who travel to Newcastle to target clubbers.
It is thought crime gangs regularly head to city clubs with the aim of stealing bags and mobile phones, often getting them out of the region within hours.
The police commissioner has not picked a start date yet, and admits that as it stands she does not have the cash to launch a big roll-out.
Mrs Baird is instead hoping to launch a smaller trial scheme as part of her ongoing crackdown on the city’s troublesome nightlife.
She told her police and crime panel: “It is the view of Northumbria Police that this type of system provides significant opportunities in crime and disorder reduction and it will act as a deterrent to gangs that currently travel the country, including Newcastle, to steal personal items in licensed premises.”
“Newcastle has a vibrant night-time economy with thousands of people visiting every weekend and our aim is for people to be able to have fun, but do it safely.
“In November 2013 Newcastle City Council became the first local authority in the country to introduce the Late Night Levy.
“Since then I have worked with officers from Northumbria Police and liaised with Newcastle City Council officers to identify ways to use receipts from the levy to further improve safety within the city centre.
“One of the ideas we are considering is a system of electronic door entry and we are working with businesses in the city centre to decide which premises will benefit most from this type of equipment.
“The electronic door entry scanners enable premises to check identification such as driving licences, passports and proof of age cards of people wishing to enter the club. “
“This is a useful tool to prevent under-age drinking and discourage anyone from coming into the club to commit crimes.”
> While at the same time encouraging them to move to places not covered by this idea. It doesn’t solve problems, merely moves them around. Although I’m sure the electronic door entry scanner industry will be very happy.
Damian Conway, of Newcastle Pubwatch, said the news would likely be welcomed by clubbers and pub bosses.
He said: “We did something similar a little while ago with fingerprints in Blu Bambu, and across the country venues still use fingerprint technology.
> Any bar that wanted me to be fingerprinted before I could enter would be a bar I’d refuse to enter anyway.
“It was very successful then. But it is targeted towards a minority of professionals who try to steal from people while they are trying to enjoy a good night out.
“What you have to remember about Newcastle is that it is a very, very safe city centre. There are on average 17 crimes a day here, day and night, from bike thefts to the small number of violent crimes, so it is clearly not an unsafe city.
“We could give it a go and get rid of that tiny minority who cause the problems. In many premises it actually speeded up entry, and I think in that respect it will be an excellent idea.”
The club scan is just the latest move from a commissioner who has made tackling the city’s drink-fuelled crime a priority.
Already Mrs Baird has forced through changes to how bouncers are trained to deal with vulnerable young women, following an horrific double-rape in Newcastle.
Alongside that, she has told cheap hotels they must be more aware of who men are bringing back into their rooms late at night.
> I’m sure they’re already very aware. They just pretend they aren’t.
The new nighttime levy was also pushed through with a promise to use the funds on making the city safer at night.
Source – Newcastle Evening chronicle 28 April 2014