UK pubs turn to biometrics to cut crime - and it works

Thumb-scanning system identifies problem drinkers so they can be banned from all local pubs. The result - a drop in alcohol-related violence of 23.5 percent.

In the security-conscious world that we live in, even the venerable British pub is not immune from the need for identification systems. The British Home Office has identified alcohol as a major cause of violent crime. The British Crime Survey found that violent offenders were believed to be under the influence in almost half of all violent incidents - 54% is cases of "stranger violence."

And so ... the South Somerset town of Yeovil instituted a biometric thumb-scan system for patrons, Silicon.com reports. The system allows pubs to identify problem drinkers and bar them from the premises. The result? A drop of 23.5 percent in booze-related violence.

Under the pilot scheme every drinker must supply a thumbprint, name, address and date of birth before being allowed to enter any of the seven licensed premises in the town centre using the technology. A drinker barred from one pub is then automatically barred from all pubs using the system.

Even so, other UK cities have no plans to thumb-scan pub patrons. A Sheffield City Council spokeswoman said: "If and when ID cards come out we might have the technology to do this but we have no plans [for fingerprint recognition in pubs] in the short term."

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