Super-strength alcohol cans now DNA tagged by shops in Wakefield to tackle street drinking

Cans of alcohol are now being DNA tagged at shops in Wakefield.
Cans of alcohol are now being DNA tagged at shops in Wakefield.

Police have joined forces with shops in Wakefield as part of a "first of its kind" high-tech campaign that aims to drive down street drinking.

Officers are now working with shops in the city centre on the crackdown to DNA tag cans of high-strength alcohol.

Six retailers have signed up to the pilot scheme, allowing police to mark a high-tech tagging solution onto cans of alcohol on sale which are seven per cent strength or above.

If cans are then found on the street, or in possession of street drinkers, officers can then trace where they were bought from their glow when placed under an ultraviolet light.

Since it was launched, West Yorkshire Police said there has been a 60 per cent fall in the number of fines issued for street drinking.

Chief Superintendent Paul Hepworth said: “We are well aware of the concerns the public have around street drinking in Wakefield city centre and we are continuing to be proactive in tackling this issue.

“It is believed this scheme is the first of its kind to be successfully implemented within UK policing and we are already seeing results on the streets with initial indications suggesting supplies of this alcohol have decreased.”

Following early results, one shop has already agreed to remove a brand of super-strength lager from its shelves because of popularity with street drinkers, the force said.

The tagging solution has been developed by Smartwater.

Police said that alcohol will continue to be confiscated from street drinkers.

Elizabeth Murphy, manager of Wakefield BID, which has backed the scheme, said: “We were keen to support the police’s good work on this project as helping to tackle street drinking is one of our priorities after listening to our levy paying businesses.

“All cities face it, but we want to support the responsible authorities to tackle it head-on and significantly reduce the impact it has on businesses, visitors and residents over time.”