Northern Ireland

Technology helps to reduce underage drinking and crime

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionIf the person is over 18, their ID will register with a tick on the scanner

A new ID scanning system is now being used in some clubs in Belfast to stop to underage drinkers getting in, and it is also hoped, to reduce crime.

On Saturday night at Musgrave police station in Belfast around 40 officers are briefed on the city's hot-spots for drunk and disorderly behaviour, assaults, vandalism and any other criminal behaviour.

The problems are mainly around all the nightclubs in the city.

The new ID scanning system is being used by club owners in the city in a bid to prevent crimes in, or outside, their establishments.

It is all within data protection legislation.

The idea for the scanning machine came from a club in Cardiff.

Image caption Laurence Burns said Thompsons had caught "quite a few underage people using false identification" since using the scanner

'Significant reduction'

It is currently is place in three Belfast clubs - El Divino, Eivissa and Thompsons.

"We've seen a significant reduction in any of the sort of incidents we had," said Laurence Burns from Thompsons.

"Certainly we have caught quite a few underage people using false identification because it immediately flags up on our system with a large x.

"It tells us right away that the person who is trying to get in that they whether they have doctored or bought one off the internet or some way they have got a false document, so therefore we are able to refuse entry on that basis."

It can also take a person's fingerprint, which means they don't have to bring out their ID the next time.

Plus if a fight happens, or something is stolen, the police can request the club's data, copy of an ID or a photograph to catch the criminal.

Clubs can also share details if someone is barred.


People queuing outside one of the clubs told me they thought it was a good idea.

"It is a good idea because there are so many bags that go missing, there's some many phones that go missing, I have had friends who have had money that has gone missing out of a bag so it probably is a good idea," one clubber told me.

Another said: "I think it is a good idea definitely - it just gives away their own person so it is their fault if they do it."

The police tell me they have had other enquiries from other clubs, both in Londonderry and Banbridge, who want to try and install the system there too.

I accompanied the police out to Shaftesbury Square, which was full of late night revellers.

Image caption Supt Nigel Goddard said "the responsibility of the night club or the pub doesn't just end at its door"

The police said their relationship with clubs and bars has improved and they now have a designated licensee police officer.

Supt Nigel Goddard said like the scanners, their role was all about trying to improve people's safety.

"The responsibility of the nightclub or the pub doesn't just end at its door - it is putting people out onto the street at the end of the night - quite a few of those have had a good time and they have probably had a bit of drink taken," he said.

"We have a really good example of one of the clubs in Belfast, who have now taken that responsibility forward and they put their door staff out into the area where people are getting taxis and that is really helping to manage it, not just in the club but out on to the street."

There are already more than 1,000 of the scanners in Britain.

It costs £45 a week to rent one of the machines but the police say you can not put a price on people's safety.