SmartWater leads London crime-fighting initiative

Around 25 million households across the UK could be given new
cutting-edge crime-fighting technology following a landmark deal for
85,000 homes in the London borough of Harrow.

Mar 4, 2010
By Paul Jacques

Around 25 million households across the UK could be given new cutting-edge crime-fighting technology following a landmark deal for 85,000 homes in the London borough of Harrow.

Harrow has become the first borough in London to offer every household the SmartWater anti-burglar deterrent under a new crime-fighting strategy. The local authority is to give all 85,000 private homes and social housing in the borough the property marking solution with which householders can mark their valuables, leaving an indelible and individual trace.

The solution is almost impossible to remove and shows up under ultraviolet light – allowing police to conclusively establish where it was stolen from.

While SmartWater has been used selectively elsewhere in London, it is the first time a council in the capital has offered the system to all its residents.

Harrow Council is investing £425,000 over two years to back the scheme. All householders will be eligible to one free container of SmartWater.

It follows a year of extensive research and a formal European Tender process, and the landmark deal offers the potential for 25 million households across the UK to be given the cutting-edge crime-fighting technology.

The new crime-fighting initiative between Harrow Council and SmartWater is part of a framework contract for the whole of London, which means other London boroughs can offer the system to their residents without having to go through the bureaucratic and time-consuming Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) process. Public sector procurements that fall within the scope of the EU regulations require that the intention to contract is advertised in the OJEU. Now that Harrow Council has completed the procurement process, other boroughs no longer have to invest the same time and resource, and the framework opens up the potential for a national framework agreement.
The marking of household valuables is just one aspect of the SmartWater campaign, which will be rolled out across the borough. Harrow police are being equipped with ultraviolet detection equipment at no cost, while Harrow Council will partner with the police on separate covert operations to target persistent offenders. These covert operations will deploy SmartWater spray systems which mark offenders’ skin, clothing and hair, linking them to a specific crime scene.

SmartWater already works with 95 per cent of police forces to help reduce crime and across the country, one million homes are already protected with SmartWater: more than 95 per cent of which are social housing.

The standardisation of identification of property has major benefits to both police and London citizens as it:
•Reduces confusion within law enforcement community;
•Increases motivation in terms of scanning recovered property; which
•Creates anxiety within criminals as it makes property ‘too hot to handle’.

Inspector Dave Burgum, who is in charge of the custody suite at Harrow police station, said: “We are committed to reducing the number of burglaries and initiatives such as these, supported by police operations targeting known offenders, should produce a reduction in the number of victims of crime which has got to be a good thing for the residents of Harrow borough.

“I know for a fact that burglars do not like ultraviolet property marking dyes. When a suspect is arrested, they are brought to the custody area and automatically scanned under ultraviolet light for traces of dye. If any traces show up on their skin or clothes, it means that they have been in contact with stolen property which leads to further questioning and potentially, to prosecution and the recovery of stolen property.

“These products have a real impact when investigating crime and are a big deterrent to burglars.
“In short, they send a strong message to criminals not to burgle.”

Research in other areas where the strategy has been used show huge falls in burglary and repeat victimisation, with criminals saying

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