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Wednesday June 19th 2019

High-tech solution to deter bar brawlers in Sheffield

Sheffield’s night-time venues will have an extra tool to deter violent behaviour from this weekend (21 June) as the high-tech traceable liquid, SmartWater, is issued to selected premises.

South Yorkshire Police is working with Sheffield BID to issue the clear, colourless liquid to door staff, who will be able to use it to ‘tag’ those involved in serious offences, such as assaults.

Sheffield BID is funding the initiative, which will see a significant widening of the use of Smartwater in South Yorkshire. It is already being used for Operation Shield, which has seen over 2,000 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 a pub fight or 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.”

Diane Jarvis, Sheffield BID Manager, said: “A major part of our work at Sheffield BID is to help attract more people to the city centre, both in the day and into the evening. We boast some great social venues, bars and pubs in Sheffield, and it’s important that we make them a welcoming and friendly environment for everyone to enjoy.

“When people come for a night out, we want them to feel safe, well looked after and to have a fantastic time.

“We work very closely with all the major authorities in the city centre to help improve it and make it a desirable place for both residents and visitors. We are delighted to be able to support South Yorkshire Police with the implementation of SmartWater in night-time venues and are sure that this innovative tool will have a positive influence on violent behaviour in the future.”

SmartWater will be used in venues, bars and clubs across Sheffield from this Friday (21 June).

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