New spray to help stop violence in Sheffield's bars and clubs

22 June 2019, 06:00


Pubs and clubs in Sheffield are getting a new high-tech spray to help them catch people involved in any trouble.

The colourless liquid is called Smartwater, and door staff can use it to "tag" anyone involved in serious offences like assaults.

Police can then trace people back to where a crime happened.

Smartwater is already being used for Operation Shield, which has seen over 2000 homes marked with SmartWater in a bid to protect against burglaries.

Under the scheme, security staff covering 25 premises in the city centre, including Sheffield Hallam Students' Union and The University of Sheffield, have undergone training and been issued SmartTag packs.

Sheffield BID Sergeant Matt Burdett explains how the technology works: "Each tube of SmartWater has a unique chemical code, which means people sprayed with it can be traced directly back to the incident in which it was deployed.

"So if a person involved in disorder is sprayed by door staff, the SmartWater on their clothes or skin can be linked back to that incident, proving they were present and involved. Our officers and custody suites are equipped with UV lights to check for traces of the solution.

"This product, along with footage from body worn cameras, can be really helpful when establishing the background to an incident."

Detective Chief Inspector Lee Berry, Force Lead for Operation Shield added that the use of SmartWater will be strictly regulated: "The solution will only be carried and used by door staff who have been specially trained, they'll also be wearing armbands which will identify them as carrying SmartWater.

"Unfortunately, some people do come into our city centre, intent on causing trouble, I want this to be a deterrent to those individuals. This new initiative has potential to disrupt criminality on lots of different levels, from alcohol-related disorder to knife-enabled crime.

"Staff will only be using SmartWater in serious incidents, not just in any scenario where there is a confrontation. Sheffield BID and South Yorkshire Police will be monitoring when and how the solution is being used and keeping track of how useful it is and how often it’s being deployed.

"This is a really innovative use of SmartWater, it's already been tested out in several locations including West Yorkshire and we're confident it will be a useful tool for venues in Sheffield."