EVERY piece of audio-visual and information technology equipment in every school in North Yorkshire is to be "painted" with a revolutionary anti-theft system to fight a classroom crime-wave which is costing the county a six figure sum every year.
Inspector Mike Woodhall; Judith Walls, Children and Young
People's Service and Councillor John Watson, with children
and staff at Alverton School, Northallerton, and some of the ICT
equipment coded with SmartWater
In a joint exercise, North Yorkshire Police and North Yorkshire County Council are marking all ICT and AV equipment with SmartWater - a permanent, invisible label which assigns a unique DNA-style code to each school's equipment.
The substance, which can only be seen in ultra-violet light, has already cut crime in many parts of Britain. Now, with the help of a £27,000 investment from the County Council, it will be used to protect expensive education equipment.
"There has been a 250 per cent increase in the theft of ICT school equipment over the last two years," said county councillor John Watson, executive member for the children and young people's service.
"Not only has the amount of thefts increased, but so has the value of each theft.
"Very little of the ICT equipment is ever recovered. We are now working in partnership with North Yorkshire Police to reduce crimes on site."
Assistant Chief Constable David Collins added: "We wholeheartedly support this initiative. Not only is it of great benefit for schools but provides a practical lesson for children in how technology can help defeat criminals if it is used by partners working together."
Not only has the amount of thefts increased, but so has the value of each theft
John Watson - North Yorkshire County Councillor
In the year 2004 - 2005, the value of ICT equipment stolen from North Yorkshire schools was £33,582. A year later, it had risen to £187,265.
As well as being used to mark individual items of equipment, SmartWater can also be activated to spray thieves when they attempt to make off with goods. The SmartWater then shows up under ultra-violet light when a suspect is taken into police custody.