High tech violent crime deterrent rolled out county wide after trial

6/12/19: Story and photographs courtesy of South Yorkshire Police

Earlier this year we told you about a trial project taking place in Sheffield, which saw night-time venues across the city issued with SmartWater canisters in a bid to deter violent crime and behaviour.

The good news is the trial was a success and today (6 December) we’re rolling out the scheme across the rest of South Yorkshire, providing an extra deterrent to those intent on causing problems in our pubs and clubs.

Over 70 door staff working across Rotherham, Doncaster and Barnsley have undergone specialist training and will be carrying SmartWater canisters from this weekend.

Temporary Superintendent Lee Berry said: “After a successful trial in Sheffield, I’m really pleased to announce that we are rolling this out across the whole of South Yorkshire.

“We’ve had some great feedback from venues, who have told us that more and more people are recognising SmartWater as something that is there for their safety. Unfortunately we do see people visiting our city and town centres intent on causing trouble, whether it be alcohol or drug fuelled, or part of wider criminal activity, it is this behaviour that we need to tackle.”

Sgt Matt Burdett explains how the technology works: “Each tube of SmartWater has a unique 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.”

Dave Andrews is Operations Manager at Professional Security, a firm who provide door staff to hundreds of venues across South Yorkshire: “This is already proving a fantastic visual deterrent in Sheffield. We have had incidents where problems are bubbling at front doors of venues, but on seeing, or being told about SmartWater, situations are quickly diffused.”

Temporary Superintendent Berry added: “As a force we are committed to tackling violent crime and this project is a worthwhile investment. It shows we’re serious about innovative ideas and that we’re also looking at ways to improve relationships with premises within the night-time economy.

“As with the trial in Sheffield, door staff will only use SmartWater in serious incidents, not just any scenario involving a confrontation. We will be monitoring its use and keeping track of how often it is being deployed.”

SmartWater will be used in venues, bars and clubs across South Yorkshire from this weekend.