Tag spray zones in Wakefield city centre helping to deter crime, stats suggest

The spray can help trace items or even criminals.
The spray can help trace items or even criminals.

Special zones protected by a high-tech marking liquid are now in operation in Wakefield in a UK-first scheme, and it is already having an effect on crime levels.

Wakefield BID, West Yorkshire Police and Wakefield Council are installing signs across the city centre to make it clear to criminals that businesses have been protected with SmartWater packs, allowing property to be traced and thieves to be directly linked to offences.

Once sprayed onto items or even offenders, it can not be washed off and is visible when placed under UV light.

The innovative scheme has seen Wakefield become the first SmartWater city centre BID area in the country.

Night marshals operating in city centre bars have also been carrying SmartWater in recent weeks, giving them the ability to spray and ‘tag’ persons they witness involved in crime.

Since its deployment, door staff have noticed a reduction in offending on an evening and it is thought the solution - which has not so far been used - is having a deterrent effect.

After launching in late April, recent weeks have seen a number of business receive SmartWater kits and signage, prompting positive feedback from retailers.

The widening use of the spray has taken place alongside its continued use in tagging cans of higher-strength alcohol, allowing police to trace beers consumed by street drinkers back to the shops they were bought from.

Instances of anti-social behaviour fell by 60 per cent during the first six weeks of the alcohol tagging scheme, resulting in several shops voluntarily removing higher-strength alcohol from their shelves altogether.

Elizabeth Murphy, manager of Wakefield BID, said: “Tackling crime can’t be done overnight or alone, so by driving projects we can make a real difference.

“We are already seeing and hearing the positive impact it’s having on the city centre when it comes to both thefts and anti-social behaviour.”

PC Chris Schofield of the Wakefield licencing team, said: “Feedback suggests the threat of being tagged by the solution has helped deter offending with door staff reporting a lessening of incidents since it was deployed.”