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Security staff use forensic spray to mark objects and people to tackle violent retail crime in Wakefield

Security staff at two shopping centres in Wakefield city centre are being equipped with forensic marking spray to help reduce shoplifting and other offences against retail staff, a first in the UK, West Yorkshire Police reported.

The security staff at the Ridings and Trinity Walk have been trained in using Smart TAG, which is a forensic marking spray which tags objects or individuals with a unique forensic code which can be used by the police to identify items or suspects involved in criminality.  

Funded by the West Yorkshire Violence Reduction Partnership (VRP), this latest initiative comes after PCSOs in Wakefield District were given authorisation last year to use forensic marking spray, which was a first in the UK.   

Inspector Paul Fraser said: “The Wakefield Central Neighbourhood Policing Team continue to introduce innovative tactics and develop new partnership opportunities to ensure that Wakefield remains the safest city in the region. 

“The Ridings and Trinity Walk are valuable partners in the retail sector, and we hope by demonstrating how closely we are working together that it will make people think twice about committing crimes against businesses in the city.   

“Where instances do occur and security staff use the forensic marking spray, any individuals or objects sprayed will be marked with a unique code which assists us in investigating crimes and returning stolen property.”  

Aerial photo of the town centre of the town of Wakefield in West Yorkshire in the UK showing the shopping centre know as Trinity Walk with Sainsburys, Argos, Next & Asda.

Director of the West Yorkshire Violence Reduction Partnership (VRP), Det Ch Supt Lee Berry said: “We have continued to fund the use of forensic marking sprays in the Wakefield District, as we know just how effective they are in influencing behaviours and preventing situations from escalating.  

“The retail sector is crucial to our local economies, and it is vital that staff and visitors remain protected, particularly from any potential of serious violence.   

“Using the very latest technologies in partnership ensures that our vibrant cities can flourish and remain safe for all.” 

Lynette Howgate, Centre Manager of Trinity Walk, said: “For us, this is about ensuring we continue to keep Trinity Walk a safe, family-friendly shopping centre. Thanks to the police, this spray is another deterrent at our disposal as we continue to make it clear that Trinity Walk – and other key retail venues – will not accept anti-social behaviour and shop lifting.  

“It’s a national problem, but we don’t have to put up with it so we want to send a message that we are all working together to make things better. Smart TAG will help with arrests, convictions and truly shows there will be consequences to crime.” 


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