Human rights groups have raised concerns about a new scheme which will mean that people on a night out in Epsom will be barred entry to bars and clubs unless they allow their fingerprints or IDs to be scanned and their details recorded.
Surrey Police announced last week the launch of the project which will involve the use of identity scanners - although the first two scanners have yet to arrive and no start date has been set.
But leading civil liberties group Liberty has slammed the scheme for "harvesting" massive amounts of personal data and said "people in a free society should not be forced to hand over confidential personal information just to have a drink".
As part of the Pubs and Clubs against Drugs campaign, which is jointly run by Epsom and Ewell Community Safety Partnership and safer drinking organisation Pubwatch, two scanners will be initially be trialled around premises in Epsom.
The aim is for the details of those on nights-out to be taken in a bid to reduce anti-social behaviour and drug-taking inside premises.
It will be run by the door staff at the pubs and clubs involved.
Everyone wanting to enter the premises will be required to give their fingerprint or have their ID scanned.
Cross-checked against the Police National Database, if they show that an individual already has their details on record and has been banned from licensed premises by Pubwatch or is using a fake ID, they will be refused entry.
But, even if an individual’s fingerprint and details are not already on the Police National Database and there is no reason to refuse them entry, they are still required to register their personal information with this then being kept on record - unless they ask for it to be deleted.
A Surrey Police spokesman said all personal information is kept on a protected database in line with the Data Protection Act.
He said people can ask for their details not to be kept on the database once they have registered them.
But when asked whether door staff would be telling people they can opt-out in this way, the spokesman said this would be the responsibility of each establishment’s staff.
The proposals could therefore result in the personal information of many already-merry youngsters, eager to get into a pub or club, being kept on record for no real reason.
James Welch, legal director for Liberty, said: "People in a free society should not be forced to hand over confidential personal information just to have a drink - yet this sinister trend for compulsory ID scanning is on the increase.
"By outsourcing their work in this way - using clubs and bars to harvest and store masses of incredibly sensitive data - police insist they are keeping us safe.
"But can we be sure our privacy will be?"
Daniel Nesbitt, research director for civil liberties and privacy group Big Brother Watch, added: "It is vital the public understand their rights and those being asked to take the ID understand and can fully explain where the information will be stored, how long it will be held for and who can access it."
But PC Tom Arthur, from the Epsom and Ewell safer neighbourhood team, said the scanners will help stamp out behaviour which can ruin nights out for innocent members of the public.
He said: "We are aware there are drug users and dealers who are brazen enough to go about their business in public in our borough.
"We hope these scanners can act as a deterrent and stamp out the kind of behaviour that can ruin innocent members of the public's night out."
Epsom and Ewell safer neighbourhood team will be sharing information about individuals refused entry to Epsom’s bars and clubs across the border with the Metropolitan Police in Kingston and Sutton to utilise the Behave or Be Banned schemes (BOBB) in these areas, which aim to target anti-social behaviour.
People on the streets of Epsom gave their views on the scheme last week:
"If it’s quick, it’s fine. I haven’t done anything, it wouldn’t bother me."
- Megan Davies, 18, from Epsom
"The theory is if you haven’t done anything you’ve got nothing to worry about. It’s a fact of life, everyone’s got your details these days. It probably wouldn’t stop me going in. I would ask what they want my details for. I doubt 99 per cent of people going in would question it."
- Sarah Smith, 27, works in Epsom
"I don’t have anything to hide, but it’s an invasion of privacy. I don’t see how it will stop drug-dealing and violence. You’re just forcing people out onto the streets where it can’t be controlled. It wouldn’t put me off going but I don’t see how I have to register for this to get a drink."
- Michael Leopold, 23, from Epsom
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