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No fingerprints, no entry: Romford pubs introduce ‘Orwellian’ tactics to curb troublemakers

PUBLISHED: 10:40 21 February 2014 | UPDATED: 13:15 21 February 2014

Left to right: Vince Billings, Chris Clark and Mark Compton.

Left to right: Vince Billings, Chris Clark and Mark Compton.

Archant

Customers’ fingerprints are being taken and stored by pubs and clubs to verify ages and identities and keep track of potential troublemakers.

A total of eight Romford businesses are using a Clubscan machine to help curb alcohol-fuelled violence.

Customers need to provide ID and fingerprints before gaining late-night entry to bars.

Pub bosses say it will help to keep past troublemakers and those intent on violence at bay.

Wetherspoon’s pub the Moon and Stars, South Street, Romford began using a device last weekend.

Paul Gilligan, 59, from Woodfield Drive, Gidea Park, was refused entry after turning up last week after 8.30pm.

He had no ID and was unable to use the machine.

“It is a complete invasion of privacy,” he said. “It’s like Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, as they’re spying on us.”

A 42-year-old teacher, wishing to remain anonymous, said: “I expect to be able to go out anywhere in this country and have a drink in peace without being harassed about my personal information. This is so wrong.”

The businesses are supported by police, Havering Council, and the CCTV team of the Safe and Sound Community Group.

Inspector Neal Donohoe, from Romford town centre neighbourhood policing team, said: “I believe most of our night-time patrons would welcome a safer environment in the knowledge police and licensees are working together to ensure we limit the number of people entering our licensed premises who are involved in violence, theft and drugs.”

JD Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon said: “The pub is well run and we are happy to work partly with the police on this initiative.”

But Nick Pickles, director of civil liberties group Big Brother Watch, said: “In reality this system has the potential to track people’s socialising irrespective of whether they cause problems or not.”

Cllr Geoff Starns, cabinet member for community safety, said: “We want people to enjoy coming to Romford. This means they need to feel safe in our town, so any system such as ID scanners introduced by businesses to improve security, people’s safety or combat under-age drinking is welcome.”

Kosho nightclub, South Street, Romford, was the first business in the area to introduce the system last year.

Manager Jose Martins said: “It’s been really helpful to us, cutting down crime in our club so I would recommend it.”

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