In an ‘industry first’, SmartWater® is being used to combat street drinking by tracing where disorderly drinkers are buying their alcohol from in a bid to educate retailers and reduce anti-social behaviour.
Working in partnership with West Yorkshire Police, a new scheme is being trialled with a number of retailers within Wakefield’s public protection zone, in which cans of high-volume alcohol – seven per cent and above – are marked with SmartWater forensic liquid.
Each of the retailers in the city centre has a unique forensic code assigned to them, so when applying SmartWater forensic liquid to their stock, they are essentially creating an irrefutable link back to their business.
SmartWater forensic liquid is near invisible in natural light but glows under ultraviolet (UV) light. Police officers in Wakefield are equipped with UV detection torches, so when cans are found on the street or street drinkers are found in possession of cans, officers can identify and trace where the street drinker bought the can(s) in question. In turn, West Yorkshire Police officers will offer advice and support to the retailer concerned.
Under the licensing act, retailers of alcohol have a duty to promote the prevention of crime and disorder and prevent public nuisance.
Police licensing officer PC Chris Schofield said: “This initiative has been put in place by the licensing team after liaising with SmartWater to tackle the source of the drinking issues identified. Retailers have a responsibility for this initiative and ensure that it is adhered to in order to tackle the availability of high-strength alcohol products.”
Wakefield West Inspector, Helen Brear said: “We are well aware of the concerns the public have around street drinking in Wakefield city centre and we are continuing to be proactive in tackling this issue. Street drinking is linked to various other offences, such as antisocial behaviour, so if we can stamp out street drinking, then we can combat other offences at the same time. This initiative is not about catching retailers out; it is about prevention, deterring potential crime and getting to the source of the issue before it becomes a wider problem in Wakefield.”
Neighbourhood officers continue to police the public protection zones and confiscate alcohol from street drinkers. Those found to be in breach of the order will be prosecuted.
Elizabeth Murphy, Manager of Wakefield BID, which has supported the rollout of this initiative, said: “We were keen to support the police’s good work on this project as helping to tackle street drinking is one of our priorities after listening to our levy paying businesses. All cities face it, but we want to support the responsible authorities to tackle it head-on and significantly reduce the impact it has on businesses, visitors and residents over time.”
Cllr Maureen Cummings, Chair of the Wakefield Community Safety Partnership and Cabinet Member for Environment and Communities at Wakefield Council said: “It is excellent news that the pilot scheme has been so successful in reducing the negative impacts of super strength alcohol street drinking. We want everyone to be able to enjoy our city centre and this scheme will help to drive down anti-social behaviour and promote sensible drinking.”
Gary Higgins, Consultant Director of Security Services for SmartWater, added: “SmartWater are delighted to be supporting West Yorkshire Police with this innovative and successful scheme. We are used to our products and services being used to deter and reduce crime and antisocial behaviour but we believe that this is a UK first and the fact that it is proving to be so successful is great news for all concerned.”