Police in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs have been conducting stings on minors attempting to enter licensed venues, with the fear of penalties bringing immediate success.
The initiative last weekend caught no underage kids – a stark contrast to the 34 caught the previous weekend at venues in Bondi Junction, including The Eastern Hotel.
Officers from Waverley Police conducted exercises to detect teenagers under 18 years of age in queues to enter venues. The first week caught 34 instances of attempted entry, primarily by way of borrowed or unlawful possession of legitimate identification, such as a driver’s licence, passport or photo ID card.
Speaking to PubTIC about the operation, Licensing Supervisor Sergeant Peter Bolt says the unit is exercising an educated approach to known practices, and targeting what makes a difference.
“We recognise this is a challenge to licensees, and the last thing they need,” said Bolt.
“We’re mindful it takes two to tango, and minors prey on venues they hear are a better option. We recognise it is a premeditated act to doll yourself up, go stand in a queue and try and pass yourself off as 18 when you know you’re not allowed in.
“There should be some consequence to that, and the combination of a monetary fine plus extension to their Provisional licence is suitable.”
The Road Transport Act allows for a person’s Provisional or ‘P-plate’ licence to be extended from 36 to 42 months for offences relating to the use of a licence unlawfully. This will apply to the individual for five years if they do not yet hold any form of licence.
Bolt says the most common method employed recently is the ‘look-alike’, where minors have secured the ID from someone over 18 years that looks like them. Possessing someone else’s ID or lending an ID can draw a fine $815.
Social media has proven fertile ground for this endeavour, and led to instances of identification being sought, arranged and often purchased.
“Another concern for us was the number of young people holding ‘supplementary’ ID, meaning they were able to produce a bank card or some other ID in the same name. This could indicate a greater number of people selling IDs as a package.”
Bolt says the technology of modern driver’s licences has made altering them extremely difficult. The days of licence “scratchies” – with a doctored age date – are mostly gone, and when these are detected it means a person with an advanced skill set, and prompts vigorous investigation.
Key he says is a collaborative approach between licensees and police, which will ultimately lead to less punitive burden on venues.
“We take the stance that a safe venue is generally a popular venue, and if we can help, it works well for both licensees and us too.
“If minors start to arrive – whatever the reason – they have likely begun talking, saying it is a place to gain access, and they see it as an opportunity. We encourage licensees to work with police. It may be worthwhile to run an operation and identify offenders before the get in, with police there to deal with it.
“These educational operations are important, so operators can see we have the same view toward the public.”
Sergeant Bolt says venues that regularly ask for ID in an overt manner become known as places to not go, and minors avoid them.
He recommends venues adopt a ‘total venue response’ to ensuring satisfaction a person is over age. Do not simply rely on security – all staff, including bar and floor staff, be in the habit of asking for ID and focusing on people that look young.
TIPS FOR CHECKING IDENTIFICATION
Ensure the basics:
- Good lighting
- Have a good look at the photo and make sure it closely resembles the person
If still in doubt:
- Ask for supplementary ID – but do not allow them to give it, instead ask them to open their wallet and you select it
- Have them perform the signature on the ID. Keep a pen and pad handy for this
- Have them show you a social media account (Facebook, Instagram)
NOTE: Venues to not have the authority to seize a driver’s licence or identification. However, police have this advice for security and management when they encounter a suspected fraudulent ID.
“Explain to the young person that the identification does not appear to be theirs. Provide reasons. Then advise the young person that the Police will be called to determine the validity.
“It has been the experience that at this stage if the licence is indeed ‘fake’ the young person will run from the scene, leaving the licence with staff, who can then provide it to police at a later time.”