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Focus: DeterTech & West Yorkshire Police initiative to tackle domestic abuse

A collaboration between Secured by Design member company DeterTech & West Yorkshire Police to deter and detect domestic abuse was chosen as a finalist at policing’s National Problem Solving Awards.

The awards are held to recognise ways of working involving police and partners that embed problem solving approaches to address local and national issues, with the DeterTech West Yorkshire Police collaboration being one of the five finalists selected out of more than a hundred entries. 

The Focused Forensic Marking Initiative to Deter and Detect Domestic Abuse has now been introduced in all five districts across the county, which so far has protected over 160 victims of domestic abuse. The initiative utilises SmartWater, a forensic marking liquid that is traditionally used to deter offences of theft and burglary, taking an innovative approach by adapting the use of forensic marking so that potential victims of domestic abuse can be protected.


The project was presented to a plethora of problem solving subject matter experts and leaders in this field at the National Problem-Solving Conference, where the final judging panel and audience members which included, voted for this year’s overall Tilley Award winner.

You can watch an overview of the initiative here, on the YouTube channel of South Yorkshire Police’s Violence Reduction Unit.

Project lead Detective Superintendent Lee Berry, West Yorkshire Police lead for Violence Against Women and Girls said: “Despite not winning the overall Tilley Award, I am extremely proud that this initiative was selected as the finalist in the investigations category and that our ongoing work to protect victims of domestic abuse is being recognised.

“West Yorkshire Police is leading the way in this new initiative of protecting domestic abuse victims, which plays a crucial part in the Force’s Violence Against Women and Girls strategy (VAWG).

“As well as seeing reductions in repeat victimisation and increases in victims feeling safe and having more trust, confidence, and satisfaction in the Police, we have secured the first conviction in the world where forensic marking was used to help secure this outcome.

“Other forces are now using or considering this approach as a result of the work we have achieved so far.”

Gary Higgins, Director of Commercial Operations, DeterTech UK said: “We are very proud to support West Yorkshire Police with this innovative and ground-breaking work and delighted that it is being recognised.

“At DeterTech UK (formally The SmartWater Group) our purpose is to provide greater peace of mind to people and communities every day.

“It is great to see this initiative making such a positive difference to the daily lives of many victims of domestic abuse.”

Hazel Goss from Secured by Design said: “It’s great to see SBD member company DeterTech UK Ltd working with West Yorkshire Police to help tackle this type of crime. I’m delighted this initiative has gained recognition for the work that is being undertaken to protect victims of domestic abuse, protecting over 160 victims shows what a success it has been, and I’m pleased to see it now extending into other areas of Yorkshire.”