By Clyde Mooney

Following a successful six-month trial of identification scans, five Newcastle venues have joined together to address the area's problems and reputation for violence.

The co-ordinated trial of ID scans by Fannys of Newcastle and MJ Finnegans – which once again topped the state's most violent venues list last month – saw over 250 people banned for antisocial acts.

The King Street Hotel, Queens Wharf Brewery and Cambridge Hotel have now joined them in the Newcastle Entertainment Precinct alliance, introducing a $40,000 Scannet ID scanning system to provide a united front against problem patrons.

The system, tailored by JSS Security, enables venues to see if a person has a history with being removed or denied entry to any of the other venues, and can pick up on two people using separate IDs in one name.

President of the AHA NSW Newcastle-Hunter region, Rolly de With, said the measures will help address the attitude that removal from a venue simply means moving on to another.

"It is the first time there is a real deterrent, that is you muck up and do the wrong thing in one place, you are going to be refused entry at all the premises that are participating."

The AHA said the program is another strategy in cleaning up the image of the area, which has taken a battering since curfews and lockouts were introduced.

"I think we are all sick and tired of seeing Newcastle being branded as Hicksville," said de With. "Every time I go to Sydney to an AHA [event], they say 'what are you guys doing up there, you are giving us all a bad name'. We don't want a bad name for Newcastle."

Owner of Fannys and King Street Hotel, Russell Richardson, said the trial had reduced the number of incidents inside and outside the premises, and made patrons more accountable for their actions.

"We have seen a genuine change in behaviour, because they know they are going to be scanned, and secondly the people who are already banned don't turn up," said Richardson.

Operator of J.S Security, Joel Sheehan, agreed that patron attitudes have evolved.

"Last year we found people were extremely hesitant towards ID scanners, but this time it's been quite the opposite – the majority of people are all for it.

"I think this is one solution that could really help the problems being experienced at Kings Cross also."

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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