This month saw the launch of a new crime prevention initiative aimed at increasing the security of licensed firearms across London.
The Metropolitan Police Service is determined to support firearms and shotgun certificate holders in London by helping them secure their homes and property, including their guns. The Met believes a product called SmartWater may significantly help achieve this, assisting in the recovery of stolen property whilst also acting as a deterrent.
For the first time, the Met Firearms Enquiry Team (FET), has written to over 30,000 firearms certificate holders across London. As well as promoting the use of SmartWater under the 'MetTrace' banner, the team are encouraging its customers to visit the Met's new website and register their email addresses with the unit to improve future contact and services provided. The team are also using this opportunity to promote greater vigilance amongst the shooting community and encourage the reporting of any suspicious activity.
MetTrace is a London-wide burglary reduction initiative designed to protect homes through the use of forensic property-marking products. SmartWater technology has proven to be an effective tool in reducing burglary across the Capital. This liquid, unlike serial numbers, is virtually impossible to remove and can only be viewed under UV light. The unique code can then be used by the police to trace the items, should they ever be stolen.
The use of SmartWater branding, via stickers on windows, has proven to deter burglaries in the first instance.
In addition to the current MetTrace offer of one in seven homes in London being offered free SmartWater Kits - containing invisible traceable liquid - firearm owners are being offered the kit for a reduced price of £8.95. This is the first time the Met has encouraged licensed gun owners across London to use forensic marking - with the primary aim of increasing the security and recoverability of their firearms. The initiative also supports the Met's drive to reduce gun-related crime, led by the Met's Trident and Area CrimeCommand and the Flying Squad.
Commander Matt Twist, the Met's lead for Armed Policing, said: "This initiative is extremely welcomed and contributes in many ways to keeping London safe. We really value the ongoing support of our shooting community and hope our approach will go some way in demonstrating this. As well as promoting MetTrace, I cannot stress enough the need for vigilance at this time. The public are our eyes and ears; playing an increasingly important role in tackling gun crime and terrorism. I urge people to continue reporting any information or suspicious activity they become aware of."
Detective Chief Superintendent Iain Raphael, the Met's project lead for MetTrace, said: "The MetTrace project and its partnership with SmartWater has, to date, seen a reduction of over 3,000 residential burglaries in London. Expanding its reach to help support the security of licensed firearms across London is a great next step and of obvious relevance in helping to keep London safe, and a further way in protecting your home."
SmartWater Director Alan Given QPM, said: "SmartWater is delighted to be working in partnership with the Metropolitan Police Service and this new initiative will provide support to firearms holders, whilst deterring theft. It will give firearms licencees greater peace of mind that their firearms are forensically protected and will help to make communities both within and outside the capital safer."
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The supply of kits to firearms certificate holders is supplied at a reduced rate which the Metropolitan Police Service has negotiated with the manufacturer SmartWater.
To facilitate this campaign, a Leeds based company called Corporate Document Services Limited (CDS) have been used. CDS are a reputable, print company and not a commercial marketing agency. They are already, specifically contracted by the Met for "The Supply of External Print and Associated Services" under a Crown Commercial Services (Government Procurement Service) framework. They hold appropriate information security accreditations and no personal information is to be retained.
Since writing to our certificate holders, we are aware of concerns raised regarding the release of personal information to CDS and their sub-contractors, Yes Direct Mail. Their use was solely to facilitate the design and dispatch of Met correspondence supporting this crime prevention campaign. These companies are registered with the Information Commissioner’s Officer (ICO) and hold various security accreditations.
The MPS takes its responsibilities towards the protection of personal data very seriously. CDS are a Crown Commercial Supplier and well aware of their responsibilities under the Data Protection Act. We have contacted them and the sub-contractors and we are assured that all the personal data has been deleted in line with their policies. We are investigating the matter internally and will keep the ICO informed accordingly.
No personal information has been provided to SmartWater.