News

Officers to trial DNA spray to combat off-road bikers & link offenders to unsolved crimes

20 Sep 2018 10:00 AM

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An innovative DNA spray which can ‘tag’ offenders and link them to unsolved crimes is to be trialled by Northumbria Police.

Officers in Sunderland and South Tyneside are to carry canisters containing an invisible UV solution as part of a crackdown on individuals illegally riding off-road motorbikes and mopeds.

The initiative, which has been supported by Sunderland City Council and South Tyneside Council, follows concerns raised by local residents who can often feel intimidated and unsafe as a result of anti-social behaviour linked with off-road bikes.

The water-based SelectaDNA tagging spray will mark equipment, clothing or skin with a uniquely-coded but invisible dye that can provide forensic evidence to link individuals or items to a specific crime.

The spray will be utilised as officers are unable to pursue a suspect riding a motorbike or scooter for safety reasons.

Temporary Superintendent Barrie Joisce, of Northumbria Police, believes the initiative will help protect the most vulnerable in society and bring regular offenders to justice.

“This is something that has been successfully used at other forces across the country and will provide our officers with another effective tactic in combating anti-social, off-road biking,” T/Supt Joisce said.

“It is unacceptable for the anti-social behaviour of a minority to bring misery to a majority who can be made to feel vulnerable in their own homes or intimidated when out spending time with their friends and family.

“As part of this trial, we will also see whether the spray can be used to help detect other types of crime and bring those guilty of flouting our laws before the courts.

“Our message to residents is clear; we hear your concerns, we understand your worries, and now we are actively looking to target those offenders who ride around on bikes committing crime and destroying the fabric of our communities.

“We are confident that this innovative new equipment will lead to more seizures and convictions to help make our region a safer and more enjoyable place to live.”

Officers will be given UV torches to detect individuals or bikes that have come into contact with the spray, and can then use forensic analysis to link offenders to a particular crime.

The scheme will be trialled in Sunderland and South Tyneside but could be rolled out across the Force if successful.

The trial received funding from Sunderland City Council and South Tyneside Council, who are both working alongside police to tackle an issue of concern to many residents.

Deputy Leader of Sunderland City Council and Chair of the Safer Sunderland Partnership, Councillor Michael Mordey said: “The irresponsible use of off-road motorcycles in our countryside and our streets causes a serious nuisance which we need do something to discourage and prevent.

“Working with our community safety partners we’ve put this practical solution in place which will help police officers to identify those responsible and their vehicles , so they can face future prosecution for their anti-social behaviour and  illegal activities.

“We will continue to provide our policing partners with all the support and resources that we can, to help keep our communities safe and peaceful places to live.”  

Councillor Nancy Maxwell, Lead Member for Area Management and Community Safety and Chairman of the South Tyneside Community Safety Partnership, said: “These anti-social bikes are real concerns for communities.

“They not only create a great deal of disturbance, affecting the quality of life for local residents, but they are often driven irresponsibly and at such high speeds, there is a danger that someone will get seriously hurt.

“We are pleased to support the police in funding the trial of this new product, which is already proving effective in other parts of the country in helping to link offenders to specific crimes.

“We also remain committed to keeping South Tyneside as safe place to live, work and visit and continue to work closely with our partners to take action against those responsible for this kind of behaviour, those who have no regard for the law or the safety of others.”

Anyone with any concerns regarding off-road motorbikes or anti-social behaviour are asked to contact police on 101 or speak to an officer on patrol.