PUBLICANS believe a new system handing out blanket bans for troublesome partygoers would be as much of a deterrent of violence as a strategy to keep offenders from getting into pubs.
More than 250 people have been banned for a variety of antisocial acts during a six-month trial at two of the city’s major nightspots, Fanny’s of Newcastle and MJ Finnegans.
And with the alliance stretching to five of the city’s biggest and most popular spots at the weekend, publicans believe they can thwart aggressive behaviour from patrons.
As the Newcastle Herald reported yesterday, Fanny’s and MJ Finnegans will join the King Street Hotel, the Cambridge Hotel and The Brewery to use an across-the-board identification scanning system that will weed out problem partygoers.
Under the $40,000 system, people ejected from one licensed premises for antisocial behaviour will have a cross next to their name, which could mean they are barred from one premises or from all five.
The Brewery's responsible service of alcohol manager Lucas Miller speaks to Dan Proudman about how the system works.
AHA Hunter president Rolly De With speaks about the benefits of the system as a deterrent.
King Street Hotel and Fannys owner Russell Richardson tells Dan Proudman about the results they've seen so far.
‘‘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,’’ AHA Newcastle-Hunter president Rolly de With said.
‘‘That is a major deterrent, to stop them, because normally they can misbehave somewhere and then just have an attitude of ‘‘oh well, we can move on somewhere else’’.
Russell Richardson, who owns Fanny’s of Newcastle and King Street Hotel, said the trial had reduced the number of incidents inside and outside the licensed premises.
Mr Richardson said it also 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,’’ he said.
‘‘Seeing the consequences and making everyone accountable is hopefully a catalyst to changing behaviour.
‘‘...reducing hours and all that kind of stuff doesn’t actually focus on behaviour, or changing behaviour.’’
Mr de With said the program was another strategy in cleaning up the image of Newcastle’s entertainment precinct, which has taken a battering since the curfews and lockouts were introduced.
‘‘I think we are all sick and tired of seeing Newcastle being branded as Hicksville,’’ Mr de With said. ‘‘Every time I go to Sydney to an AHA thing, 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.’’