Partygoers who are violent against women could be tagged with forensic spray under new trial

·2-min read
Government funding aims to crack down on violence against women and girls  (PA Archive)
Government funding aims to crack down on violence against women and girls (PA Archive)

Partygoers who are violent against women could be sprayed with glow-in-the-dark water under government-funded trials of new ways to tackle crime.

South Yorkshire police have already been trialling the method at clubs and bars in a bid to crack down on violence against women and girls, and the government said it’s a “promising” option.

If an alleged offender is sprayed with the water, called “SmartTag”, police are then able to follow up any reported attacks by shining ultraviolet light on the person and their clothes to reveal the smart water that can place them at a crime scene.

The scheme is to be looked at by one of 16 projects developing “innovative” ways to reduce crime that have been awarded a total of £12 million for trial.

The funding has from the Evaluation Task Force - a joint Cabinet Office and Treasury unit.

Detective Superintendent Lee Berry, who launched a ‘forensic tagging’ pilot with security guards at South Yorkshire Police, said it was successful at diffusing violent situations.

Over 100 canisters were deployed across the county.

“We received great feedback from door staff who said they had diffused situations by warning those involved that they would be forensically marked,” said Mr Berry.

Trained staff are given a handheld cannister that contains a forensic solution with a “unique DNA code” within the fluid.

Staff can then spray the fluid up to 10 metres to deter violence, and officers with UV lights can identify those people at a later date if an arrest is warranted.

Mr Berry said the fluid is “not harmful at all” and it can reportedly remain visible on skin under UV light for up to six weeks, and on clothes for years.

Around £1.7m is being invested in work by the College of Policing to identify promising interventions aimed at tackling violence against women and girls, the government said.

“Options being explored include forensic tagging of perpetrators of crime in the Night Time Economy and the use of domestic abuse courts.”

Cabinet Office minister Kit Malthouse said: “We must constantly agitate and innovate to improve public services, always eager to try smart solutions to complex, deep rooted problems across our nation.

“Whether it’s tackling drug misuse in prisons or finding new ways to confront violence against women and girls, this £12 million investment will help explore and develop those solutions so we can improve the lives of people in all of society."

Another initiative, which received £933,000 from the Accelerator Fund, tests wastewater in prisons for illegal substances, making it easier for prison staff to identify who is holding supply in jails.

A programme run by the Centre for Homelessness Impact received more than £200,000 to assess the effectiveness of a one-off payment to 18 year-olds leaving care.

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