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Revellers must have ID scan to enjoy a drink at city bar
DRINKERS are having their ID documents scanned in at an Oxford bar, under a scheme police want to see rolled out across the county.
A scanner has been installed at the door of Thirst Bar in Oxford in a bid to keep criminals and underage drinkers out.
When entering the Park End Street venue, revellers are now asked to scan in identification, such as driving licences and passports. Their name, age, address and photograph are then stored.
Privacy campaigners say the move is excessive but the bar’s owner Rob Opher said customers now felt safer and had not been put off.
He said: “If you are a law-abiding citizen why would you be worried?”
The Idscan Biometrics Ltd computer can authenticate more than 3,000 types of documentation and allows bar owners to see statistics about the type of people visiting.
Mr Opher said most drinkers would be asked to scan their IDs, but who came in was up to management. He said thousands of people had their details taken since the machine was installed but only two requested they were deleted at the end of the night, which he was happy to do.
The bar owner also said the information would usually be kept for no more than six months but could be held for up to three years.
He said the bar would offer drinkers the option to have their fingerprints taken along with their ID details so they would not need to bring it the next time.
The equipment was likely to cost more than £5,000, said Mr Opher, but he was paying £50 every week to hire it for the next three years.
Bar general manager Yas Hunter said: “When you have a lot of girls who come to your venue it is important to create a very safe environment.”
Insp Andy Thompson, city centre neighbourhood police inspector, said he hoped other bars and clubs would install similar machines.
He said in the month after it was installed, on February 21, there were three crimes recorded at the bar (two phone thefts and a public order crime) – compared to the 21 in the period last year.
He said: “This is something that will mean people have a safer, more enjoyable night out in Oxford.”
But Nick Pickles, director of campaign group Big Brother Watch, said it was a step too far.
He said: “If you are checking if someone is barred, you don’t need to store their name, address and photo for three years. This treats everyone as a suspect and it is quite clearly excessive.”
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