Police can get patron info for bar blacklist

A more than 30-year-old Nova Scotian law allows police to obtain patrons' personal information and share it with bar owners seeking to ban them from the premises.

If approved, a citywide bar blacklist could rely on police to provide customers' personal information. In fact, the Property Protection Act has allowed that for more than 30 years. Photo: Adam Miller

If a proposed bar blacklist goes through, Halifax Regional Police will be allowed to seize patrons' personal information and share it with the establishment.

In fact, they've been doing it all along.

If someone's looking to boot a person from their business or home, the Protection of Property Act empowers police to obtain that person's information on their behalf, says police spokesman Const. Brian Palmeter.

"As long as it doesn't violate anybody's civil rights, then any business owner's entitled to refuse somebody entrance onto their property," Palmeter said.

"It's no different than if you want somebody out of your house."

Officers could obtain whatever information is necessary for the property owner to issue a court order under the provincial act, banning the person from the premises. Normally that's the trespasser's name, date of birth and address, Palmeter said.

"In all the ones I've done, I don't think I've ever used the phone number or any other personal information," he said.

As for home addresses, since young adults tend to change them often, they likely won't even be necessary for the proposed bar blacklist, he said.

"Ultimately we just have to be satisfied that the person is who they are."

A long time running

Palmeter himself used to work security at downtown clubs and he says, at the time, he could rely on the cops if the establishment needed information on problem patrons.

"If somebody got in a fight and the police were normally called, we'd get the names and that's how we would get it," he said.

While police have been doing this for years - the act was originally written in 1989 -Palmeter said it's unclear how the process of collecting information will work if the restaurants and bars go ahead with the Bar Watch program.

More discussion is needed with the Restaurant Association of Nova Scotia, the group spearheading the program, to determine what information cops will collect and when, he said.

As it stands, police can be called to step in for anything from a dress code violation to a fight, Palmeter said. For any breach of the bar's code of conduct, police could issue a ticket, likely in the neighbourhood of $250, he said.

The Protection of Property Act states that "every person who ... engages in an activity which is prohibited on the premises" is committing a summary offence. A conviction could result in a maximum fine of $500.

Police may arrest a person for an offence under this act if it's thought necessary to "prevent the continuation or repetition of the offence" or to "establish the identity of the person."


Comments on this story are now closed

Wow.. what a load of crap to say the least. How is this not a violation of the Protection of Privacy Act? So what your telling me is that some bar owner can call the police and get all this information about me, but yet my own wife can't call Eastlink Cable and find out what cable channels I have unless I call and give them a ton of information and then give her permission to do so. GIVE ME A BREAK. Seriously what a bunch of idiots.

Posted by brent | Mar 12, 2021