Police to use new spray to 'tag' off-road bikers causing havoc on the Malvern Hills - The Malvern Observer

Police to use new spray to 'tag' off-road bikers causing havoc on the Malvern Hills

Malvern Editorial 7th Jul, 2023   0

POLICE are piloting a new way of stopping off-road bike riders who use their machines illegally on paths, bridleways and the Malvern Hills.

Officers are deploying a long-lasting SmartTag spray on to the skin, hair, clothing or motorbike of a suspect who is riding their bike illegally or in an anti-social way.

The forensic spray is harmless and lasts for weeks despite attempts to wash it off.

The use of the spray is announced to coincide with Anti-Social Behaviour Awareness Week, which runs until Sunday.

The action is being taken a number of complaints about anti-social off-road riding which puts not only the rider but also members of the public in the area at risk.

Malvern and Upton Safer Neighbourhood Team has had some success in identifying culprits and have secured Community Protection Notices and Criminal Behaviour Orders which prohibited their  riding.

But in some cases it proved difficult to gain evidence against individuals because pursuits came with a significant risk to riders police and the wider public and were often abandoned.

Sgt Geraint Perkins said: “We have been looking at ways we could deter the act of riding motorbikes illegally and prosecute those who choose to continue to ride despite our warnings.

“I am pleased to announce that, thanks to the West Mercia Police Problem Solving Hubs, we are piloting the roll-out of SmartTag spray to operational officers within Malvern and Upton SNT.

“The SmartTag has been used successfully by another number of other police forces and as a team, it is useful to have this kit at our disposal which further enhances our capability for dealing with individuals who commit anti-social behaviour and traffic offences.”

The SmartTag spray is a traceable forensic liquid (SmartWater) with each cannister containing a unique chemical code that is invisible to the naked eye, but once placed under UV light it shines brightly.

The way the SmartTag will be utilised is simple, if an officer on patrol encounters an individual riding a motorbike along a bridleway, parkland or any other area they should not be, then there will be a direction for the rider to stop.

If that direction is ignored, the clothing or motorbike of the rider will be sprayed with SmartTag.

The spray can be used at a distance of 15 metres and the liquid is harmless. The forensic liquid sprayed will remain on skin and hair for weeks (despite washing) and will remain on clothing even longer.

West Mercia Police has long been issuing smart water to victims of burglary to mark their property and has held property marking events before, but utilising SmartTag will mean there is no need to attempt any pursuit of an offender, eliminating risk to the rider, officers and wider public.

It then allows officers to attend the address of a person suspected of riding a motorbike in such a manner and utilise UV light to confirm or eliminate their status as a suspect.

When suspects are identified there are a number of possible outcomes that the police could use – prosecutions for dangerous/careless driving that could include bans or points on licences, Section 59 notices, seizure of motor vehicles which could result in disposal, Criminal Behaviour Orders or Community Protection Notices.

Signs will be visible across the Malvern and Upton policing area as a reminder to those who are tempted to ride their motorbikes but the signs should serve as a reminder to the possible outcomes they face when dealt with by the police.


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