POLICE have a new device to tackle illegal and anti-social moped riders in North Yorkshire - a DNA spray to tag offenders and link them to the crime.

Officers today demonstrated the SelectaDNA tagging spray on sports fields at New Earswick, with a Police Community Support Officer spraying two motorcyclist colleagues as they rode through a gap in the hedge.

PC Tom Ibbetson, who has led the DNA spray initiative at North Yorkshire Police with support from the force’s Roads Policing Group, said the uniquely-coded but invisible DNA would remain on skin, clothing and the bikes for many weeks and could be used to prove someone was on a moped or off-road motorcycle.

He said it showed up blue under special UV lights and could still be detected after washing, and could provide forensic evidence in court if necessary.

It had already been successfully deployed by 14 other forces as a 'very effective and safe police tactic in evidentially linking people on mopeds and off-road motorcycles to criminality and anti-social behaviour.

He said:“The beauty of the DNA tagging spray is that suspects and bikes can be identified many weeks after being tagged, meaning they will have to be constantly looking over their shoulder because the police will catch up with them sooner or later.

“Importantly, it sends out a clear message to both offenders and concerned residents that North Yorkshire Police will not tolerate this type of behaviour.

"We will go to great lengths to bring offenders to justice and end the misery they are causing in many of our communities.”

PC Ibbetson said such offenders often had their faces covered while making off from the police.

He said that while the spray was being introduced specifically to target moped and off-road motorcyclists, it could be used in other situations where it proved difficult for an officer to make an immediate arrest of an offender, for example a cycle thief making off on the bike or a shoplifter.

He said the roll-out of the spray in North Yorkshire was being funded from assets seized from criminals under the Proceeds of Crime Act at a cost of £2,500.

A force spokesman said that anyone with information about crime or anti-social behaviour linked to mopeds and off-road motorcycles should phone 101, select option 1, and speak to the force control room, or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 if they preferred to remain anonymous.