Sir Ian Mckellen with a police officer

Lord of the Rings and X-Men star Sir Ian McKellen is backing the Metropolitan Police’s Operation MetTrace and encouraging Londoners to use SmartWater.

Specially trained officers from Tower Hamlets police have visited Sir Ian’s home to deliver a free SmartWater kit and were on hand to explain how the technology works and to answer his questions.

Sir Ian was keen to take part in the project and help officers in Tower Hamlets to promote it to other local residents.

Making reference to his recent role as Sherlock in the film Mr Holmes, Sir Ian said: “Help the police. Help yourself. Thwart the burglar. Use SmartWater. Elementary.”

40,000 SmartWater kits have so far been delivered to residents across London as part of Operation MetTrace. The three year project will see a total of 440,000 homes receive the technology.

Each SmartWater kit contains an invisible property-marking solution, allowing owners to mark their possessions with a unique forensic code. This code can then be used by the police to trace the items should they ever be stolen and to link suspects to crime scenes. The solution is virtually impossible to remove and can only be viewed under UV light.

Tower Hamlets officers began rolling out the innovative forensic marking system across the borough earlier this month to help reduce burglary. Residents will also start to see SmartWater signage on lampposts in Tower Hamlets.

The technology has a significant deterrent effect and it has been estimated by MOPAC that Operation MetTrace will prevent approximately 7,000 burglaries over the next three years. This would represent a saving of almost £5 million to the Metropolitan Police, freeing up 140,000 police hours (equivalent to 17,400 police working days).

Detective Inspector Chris Soole, who launched the scheme in Tower Hamlets, said: “MetTrace aims to reduce burglary, deter criminals and reassure residents that we are committed to making our borough a safer place in which to live, work and visit. I’d like to thank Sir Ian for taking part in this initiative and hope that residents, as a result, will follow his lead.

“We urge everyone we visit to engage with our dedicated MetTrace team about how to use these very effective kits and take the opportunity to receive important crime prevention advice that can help you to further protect your home. If you are not at home when we call, we will leave a contact number and return at a more convenient time.

SmartWater Chief Executive, Phil Cleary, said: “We are very proud to be working in partnership with the Metropolitan Police on this world-first project to protect London’s residents. Experiencing a burglary can be very upsetting so we are committed to doing all we can to help the police drive down burglary rates across the capital.”