In U.K. town, it's fingerprint before you drink

Town council says biometric program has contributed to a drop in alcohol-related crime.

A biometric project that scans drinkers' thumbprints before they enter a pub has helped cut alcohol-related crime in the South Somerset town of Yeovil, England.

The South Somerset District Council said it has seen a 23.5 percent drop in alcohol-related violent crime inside licensed premises in Yeovil since the system was introduced, compared with figures from the same period last year.

Under the pilot project, 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 center using the technology.

A drinker barred from one pub is then automatically barred from all pubs using the system.

A spokesman from the South Somerset District Council said the thumbprint technology is considered to be a contributing factor to the decline in alcohol-related crime.

But despite rumors that the technology will be introduced in other U.K. cities, Coventry, Leeds and Sheffield city councils have all told Silicon.com that fingerprint scanning is not a technology under consideration.

A spokeswoman from Sheffield City Council told Silicon.com that to implement fingerprint recognition, the council would need access to the police fingerprint database. She said this access is not currently possible.

She added: "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."

Gemma Simpson of Silicon.com reported from London.

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