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Ashford Breaking KENT

A sophisticated new system aimed at deterring evening and late-night crime is being introduced in Ashford

In the first scheme of its kind in the county, the town’s Community Safety Unit is giving accredited door staff spray cannisters to mark the clothing of potential offenders with a harmless and invisible liquid.

The liquid contains a unique, long-lasting forensic code that can be used to link anyone tagged with it to a specific place and time.

Police officers can then use the liquid’s unique coding to assist their investigations into violence, disorder or other incidents in the town centre.

Venues will also be able to use UV torches to identify those who have caused problems in other businesses and prevent them from entering their own.

The new SmartTag initiative, paid for by the Safer Streets Fund, was introduced to the first Ashford venue in mid-December, following its success elsewhere in the country, and it is hoped it will be extended around the town.

The scheme is open to all venues with Security Industry Authority (SIA) accredited staff and is supported by Ashford Borough Council and Ashford Partnership Against Crime (APAC), a group which allows coordination between police, the local authority and more than 60 local businesses.

PC Alistair Pringle, of Ashford Community Safety Unit, said: ‘This is a perpetrator-focused initiative to deter would-be offenders and expand the tools available to staff working in the night-time economy to manage conflict. It can also be used to identify those responsible for criminal acts, including violence against women and girls.

‘I hope the new tagging system will deter crime, protect our community and prevent people who cause trouble in one venue being able to go on to others.’

Cllr Peter Feacey, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety and Wellbeing for Ashford Borough Council, said: ‘I am very pleased to see this new technology being brought in to our pubs and bars.

‘Its introduction will support our APAC network, serving as a deterrent against crime and assisting our security and police colleagues. We want our town centres to continue to be a welcoming and safe place for all our visitors to enjoy.’

Glyn Walker, from APAC, said: ‘We have been working hard with Kent Police and Ashford Borough Council this year to help create a safer night-time economy environment.

‘SmartTag is the latest tool in our armoury, allowing an offender “tagged” at one location to be identified at another. It’s a great example of businesses working together with police and the local authority to protect themselves, each other and their customers.’