Mayor's ambitions to provide burglary-busting liquid to 440,000 homes

11 April 2014
  • Metropolitan police trials in five boroughs show traceable liquids delivered a reduction of at least 49 per cent in just the target areas over a 6 month period
  • Mayor is calling on London boroughs to join crime fight and invest in delivery of traceable liquids
  • Part of drive to deliver 20 per cent reduction in burglary by 2016

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson today heralded the success of an innovative crime-cutting tactic - 'traceable liquids' - with the potential to deliver significant decreases in burglary if deployed across the capital. The Mayor was in Harrow which has seen sharp falls in burglary and where the local authority has invested in traceable liquids as part of its joint working with the Metropolitan police.

Traceable liquid is a pioneering property-marking technology containing a unique forensic code which can only be seen under ultraviolet light. Any marked item can be traced back to its owner, providing police with powerful forensic evidence to convict thieves and to identify the owner’s details. A recent pilot of this innovative technology by the Metropolitan police saw 5000 homes in 5 boroughs being provided with the liquid free of charge. The trial targeted burglary hotspots and achieved an average 49 per cent reduction in burglaries over 6 months. Despite the trial being concluded, monitoring of the areas has continued and up to the end of February, the Met has seen a total reduction of 820 crimes – two areas have seen reductions of over 70 per cent. More than half of the residents also felt safer having applied the liquid to items in their homes. The reduction delivered more than £500,000 in estimated cost savings and of more than 15000 saved police hours.

The Mayor believes new technology such as traceable liquid will play a significant role in the Met meeting his challenge to cut burglary by 20 per cent by 2016, which if achieved, would reduce this crime to an historic low. He wants to introduce traceable liquids to at least 440,000 London homes and is calling for local authorities to jointly invest with the Met to follow Harrow's lead and assist this introduction. The Metropolitan police is currently conducting a London-wide procurement to identify a single supplier of traceable liquids for the capital which will be concluded later this year.

Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, said: ‘Smart tactics like traceable liquids and the good policing efforts of Operation Bluebell are winning the battle against burglary in Harrow. There are now fewer homes being burgled in this borough and across London, but I have challenged the police to make even more progress to combat this horrible crime. Where deployed well, this clever liquid has been proven to slash rates of property crime, helping the police not only to apprehend burglars and return stolen property, but act as a major deterrent to would-be criminals. I want to see this technology introduced in all areas most at risk of burglary, and I am urging local authorities to join with us to invest in a roll-out of traceable liquids across all boroughs.’

Stephen Greenhalgh, Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, said: ‘Successful traceable liquid pilots across London show impressive savings from crimes prevented, which frees up cops to tackle other pressing issues. We now know that this technology does what it says on the tin, giving our police another smart way to drive down crime and protect the public. The Mayor and MOPAC want to help the Met Police expand the use of traceable liquids as soon as possible and will be working closely with local authorities to do this, so all boroughs can enjoy the burglary reductions that Harrow has seen.’

Commander Simon Letchford, MPS lead for the Traceable Liquids Pilot, said: "Being burgled is a distressing experience and the memory of the offence can have a lasting impact on individuals and their families. The MPS is committed to driving down burglary in the capital and we will relentlessly pursue those intent on committing this crime. Traceable liquids is one of the tools that is helping us deliver on this challenge. The MPS traceable liquids pilot has proved the concept of traceable liquid property marking works. The strategy, applied and assessed using academic rigour in burglary hot spots, saw a total reduction of 820 burglaries in the targeted and surrounding areas. We aim to take the traceable liquids concept forward, working with our partners to roll out the strategy to more than 440,000 properties across London over the next three years - that is almost one in seven of all households, which we estimate will prevent a further 8,000 properties from being burgled. Our intention is to continue to use traceable liquids as effectively as possible to create a hostile environment for burglars and help to make our communities safer.’

The Mayor was in Harrow observing Operation Bluebell, which is part of a borough focus on burglary over the last two years. It has contributed to a 14.9 per cent total burglary reduction across the borough [rolling 12 months to the end of February 2014]. Traceable liquids, with funds from Harrow council, has been a key part of the operation.

Across London there were 55,196 recorded residential burglaries [rolling 12 months to the end of February 2014]. For the same period, total burglary reduction across London was at 8.2 per cent. The intended roll out of traceable liquids across the capital is part of the Met’s drive to meet a 20 per cent reduction target by 2016.

Cllr Susan Hall, Leader of Harrow Council, said: ‘I absolutely support the Mayor's call for wider use of traceable liquids as a way of cutting crime. Harrow Council took the decision to use this technology five years ago and since then, working with police partners, we have given thousands of kits to homeowners to help them protect their valuables. The warning stickers on houses are a real deterrent to those who think boroughs like ours are somehow a soft touch.

‘In the past year, burglary rates in Harrow have dropped by a third and there is no doubt in my mind the use of traceable liquids are playing a part in that. I hope other boroughs will heed the Mayor's call and follow Harrow's lead.’




Notes to editors

  • 5000 homes took part in the Met's traceable liquids trial - Brent, Islington, Hammersmith & Fulham, Lambeth and Southwark.