Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Clubbers face breathalyser test

Clubbers in Norwich are to face breathalyser tests as part of a one month trial.

Clubbers face being breathalysed at the door of night clubs this weekend as a "condition of entry" in a new police initiative to curb binge drinking and anti-social behaviour.

Up to 30 clubs in Norwich have been equipped with breathalysers so that door staff can test whether party-goers are sober enough to be let in.

Police say they hope this will get clubbers thinking about the amounts of alcohol they drink before heading out.

Jack Wrigley, general manager of Lola Lo, a club in central Norwich, said he thought a breathalyser would be a "good tool".

He said: "I've been stood on a night club door for eight years and you can generally tell who is too drunk to come in."

Mr Wrigley, 27, said that when he refused a girl entrance on Friday night she demanded to be breathalysed to prove that she was sober enough to enter.

He added: "A breathalyser will be good as it can back up any sort of rejection. But ultimately it's down to the discretion of the manager and the door staff.

"I think this will affect the older crowd as well as students. Christmas is here and there will be a lot of drunken people about so this could be a good eye opener."

However, not all club managers were so positive about the scheme which will run for a one month trial.

The manager at one club on Prince of Wales Road, which is the heart of the city's night life, said: "We've been given a breathalyser by police and told to use it on the door tonight. In all honesty I am not particularly keen on the idea.

"We employ experienced doormen who already have quite a hard job. Breathalysing is just one more thing to do.

"However, anything is worth a try so we will take it on for the 30 day trial. At end of day it is illegal to be drunk on licensed premises so anything we can do to stop that is a winner.

"If being breathalysed makes people think twice about getting absolutely hammered before they come out, then this could have a positive result."

Signs reading "Are you trollied? #DeepBreath" will be displayed at venues taking part in the scheme, to warn revellers that they may be breathalysed as a condition of entry.

Justin Wilkes, who has DJed at Mercy, a popular club in Norwich, said that using breathalysers was "good for awareness of consumption".

The 36-year-old Kiss FM radio presenter and club DJ added: "From my point of view as a DJ the last thing you want is anti-social behaviour. But you also want people to enjoy themselves. If you were to set an alcohol limit for entering a club that would be bad as it is hard to create a one size fits all approach."

Inspector Ed Brown, from Norwich Constabulary's licensing team, said: "These kits will allow door staff to better gauge how much alcohol someone has had and in turn help them refuse entry to someone who is too drunk.

"It's about getting people to realise how much alcohol they are drinking before heading into clubs. All too often we deal with people who are so drunk they cannot think straight and can barely walk."

Venues have been asked by police to keep a record of readings from breathalysers. The information will be evaluated after the month-long trial. Each club is responsible for setting its own limit of alcohol as a condition of entry.

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