Watch: New DNA spray tactic used by police to combat motorbike joyriders

INVISIBLE spray which helps catch motorbike joyriders is to be deployed by police in north Edinburgh in a national first.

Tuesday, 27th March 2018, 3:08 pm
Updated Tuesday, 27th March 2018, 3:13 pm

The fine mist - squirted by officers at riders from handheld canisters - contains specific DNA coding which stays on skin and clothes so identifying suspects later.

A pilot scheme starts from today with a small number of specially trained officers taking to the streets of Pilton, Muirhouse and Drylaw with the devices.

“I think it will put fear in the minds of motorcyclists who commit crime - I think it will have a preventative effect,” assistant chief constable Wayne Mawson said.

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ACC Wayne Mawson

“It increases the chance of a conviction in court and the second part is that word will be going around.”

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Police quiz 32 in Edinburgh motorbike crime investigation

Officers have been looking for new ways to tackle motorcycle crime after a number of tragic cases.

Last August a ten-year-old lad was left with serious injuries after being knocked over on a Ferry Road crossing by a stolen motorbike.

ACC Wayne Mawson

Yobs Connor Whalen, 20, and sidekick Marc Miller, 23, were later convicted and sentenced to a total six years and seven months for their roles.

And 14-year-old Brad Williamson was killed when the powerful bike he was riding crashed on Silverknowes Road in June 2016.

Police announced last week they quizzed 32 bikers after a “ride-out” to accident victim David McGarvey, 28, killed on Boxing Day, caused chaos across the city centre.

Made up of water, a UV substance and synthetic DNA, the spray is produced in Kent-based forensic firm SelectaDNA’s lab.

The harmless liquid drys within hours, or seconds in dry warm weather, can permeate clothes to skin and stays for up to months.

Officers who come across a suspect can use a UV light to reveal the spray before forensic testing matches the liquid’s individual DNA to a specific canister and crime.

ACC Mawson welcomed the spray as “another innovative tactic” to help officers when unable to chase offenders for fear of endangering them or innocent bystanders.

Police refused to reveal the cost for commercial reasons but said it was minimal compared to failed court proceedings.

“Criminals sprayed with this plead guilty,” said ACC Mawson. “Which means officers don’t have to attend court and so can spend more time on the streets protecting people.”

Deployment of the spray will be under constant review and could be rolled out further afield in Scotland if deemed successful.

And it could be used to help tackle other crimes including housebreaking and football hooliganism where immediate arrests are not possible.

The spray has been used in more than 20 criminal convictions in England with each offender pleading guilty once presented with the evidence.

“There’s no loophole,” said Nick Roach of SelectaDNA. “The Procurator Fiscal has been consulted and they’re happy with it.”

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