West Midlands Police officers are being armed with DNA spray in the latest tactic against off-road bike louts who plague the region’s streets and parklands.
Around 40 traffic cops are being given the canisters to ‘tag’ motorbikes and riders causing a nuisance in communities.
The DNA liquid is invisible to the naked eye but when exposed to UV light illuminates and allows officers to identify yobs and seize their bikes.
And the genetic material in each canister has a unique ‘barcode’ which means officers can trace suspects to a particular crime or incident of anti-social behaviour.
West Midlands Police Chief Superintendent Dave Sturman, who heads the force’s operation against reckless biking, said the spray will greatly increase the chances of identifying and prosecuting offenders.
He added: “The DNA spray is an inert, water-based product – it’s not an irritant and won’t cause any side effects – but it leaves an indelible mark that cannot be scrubbed off.
“It officers are unable to apprehend offenders at the time they can utilise the spray – and if it later shows up on suspects, their clothes or bikes we can link them to a particular incident.
“The spray has previously been used by police in Merseyside and London with considerable success. Even just a drop of DNA spray will mark riders and their bikes for a long time… this tactic will undoubtedly lead to more seizures and prosecutions.”
West Midlands Police arrested suspected bike louts and seized 38 motorbikes during two blitzes in December 2016 and March this year.
More than 50 people are currently under investigation pending a charging decision by the Crown Prosecution Service under ‘public nuisance’ legislation – and if convicted they face a potential jail sentence.
Chief Supt Sturman added: “We know how much concern and trouble these individuals cause in our communities. Their behaviour is totally unacceptable and I sympathise with any members of the public that have been inconvenienced by the bikers.
“We’ve carried out a series of warrants, utilised ‘stingers’ to contain rogue bikers and are working closely with prosecutors to secure charges against offenders. We are determined to show this type of behaviour is dangerous and won’t be tolerated.”
The DNA spray is initially being trialled by teams of traffic officers ahead or a proposed force-wide roll-out.
West Midlands Assistant Police & Crime Commissioner Ashley Bertie added: “Reckless bikers are not only a danger to themselves but also put innocent lives at risk; we are bringing in new measures to catch them and take their bikes away, and this is a clear sign that lawless behaviour on off-road bike will not be tolerated.”