More than 40 Birmingham bars and clubs are planning to breathalyse customers before they are allowed IN – in a bid to slash booze-fuelled violence. Forty-one bars have signed up to a new police and council backed scheme. Door staff will use police issue ‘Alco-Blow Detectors’ to see if customers are too drunk to be allowed inside. Any customer registering a reading of more than double the 35mg drink-drive limit (70mg) could be refused entry.
As well as targeting booze-fuelled violence police say they are also using the scheme to battle an “explosion” of “pre-loading” on cheaper supermarket bought booze. Officers say they have seen some customers downing bottles of vodka or wine in the street, minutes before they enter Birmingham’s pubs and clubs. Police are keen to stress that other factors will also be taken into account by the pub and bar staff, including demeanour and other signs of drunkenness.
The Alco-Blow tubes are funded by the council’s ‘Night Time Economy Steering Group’, and have already been rolled out primarily to bars in Broad Street.
Central Birmingham Police Sergeant Dave Francis, said: “In recent years we’ve seen an explosion in pre-loading culture. People are coming into the city already drunk and even getting out of taxis holding bottles of wine and vodka and downing them before going into clubs. Obviously when people are heavily drunk they are a danger to themselves and are more likely to get caught up in rows or fights. The breathalysed-on-entry scheme is designed to reduce alcohol-related crime.
A similar project was trialled in Norfolk last year and was found to reduce the number of disorders at venues by around a third. But this is the first mass roll-out across Birmingham’s bar and club areas.
The breathalysers differ from traditional road-side tests, with clubbers blowing into the device from a few inches away, rather than placing their lips on a tube. The clever devices can also be held over the top of containers to determine if its contents are alcoholic.
Dave Francis added: “People who ‘pre-load’ are no benefit for clubs as within half an hour of being allowed in they are likely to be drunk, don’t spend money at the bar and are more likely to get into trouble. It creates a vicious circle because if venues aren’t making money they may be tempted to put on drinks promotions that lead to more drunkenness”.
Venues will complete a simple log noting the time of the test, age of person, their gender, the reading and if the person was allowed entry.
Councillor Barbara Dring, Chair of Birmingham City Council’s Licensing and Public Protection Committee, said: “I welcome the use of breathalysers at the entrances of pubs and clubs, if they deter people from trying to gain entry when they are drunk. Individuals who do this are putting themselves at risk and are more likely to end up in trouble by the end of the night. Birmingham’s Purple Flag award recognises the safe and diverse nightlife that is on offer. This scheme will help to improve it further”.