Arming police with a ‘DNA spray’ has seen the number of rogue motorbike riders plummet in South Shields, according to police.
Since the tool was made available to officers, the number of reported incidents of illegal motorbike crime has fallen by 70 per cent.
According to senior officers, they have managed to do this without even having to use it.
Inspector Phil Baker told South Tyneside Council’s Riverside Community Area Forum: “The launch of the Selecta DNA spray has been really successful.
“We’re looking at a drop of about 70 per cent in the number of recorded incidents. The media campaign has been successful. It’s having a really good impact in this area.
“One of the main complaints we get is around moped crime, so we’re pleased to report it’s going really well and it’s money well spent.
“It’s growing too. Now we’ve done it, everyone else wants to copy us.”
The spray allows police to ‘tag’ suspects with a liquid which becomes visible under UV light.
This allows officers to link individuals to their vehicles, even if they are later dumped.
The prospect of introducing the tactic to tackle the problem of off-road and illegal motorbike riders, an issue in South Tyneside for several years, was raised in July and began being used in September.
Northumbria Police has confirmed it has not been used in South Tyneside since it was introduced, adding the drop in recorded incidents could be attributed to publicity since its launch.
However, some in the borough still think harsher measures are needed to deal with the issue.
Earlier this month, South Tyneside councillor Jeff Milburn called for the force to copy the Metropolitan Police’s ‘tactical contact policy’ - which allows specially-trained officers to use their cars to knock suspects off their bikes.
Insp Baker claimed such a strategy would not be suitable in South Tyneside.
He said: “They do it in London because it’s a response to violent crime and robberies.
“We don’t have that problem in South Shields. Here, it’s anti-social behaviour, it’s not the crime and serious assault levels they get in London.”
James Harrison, Local Democracy Reporting Service