Police say arming officers with an innovative DNA spray to tackle rogue motorbike riders has seen incidents plummet by up to 70%.
In September last year, officers in Sunderland and South Tyneside began carrying Selecta DNA canisters as part of a crackdown on individuals illegally riding off-road motorbikes and mopeds.
The pilot, which was supported by Sunderland City Council and South Tyneside Council, followed concerns raised by residents who felt intimidated or unsafe as a result of anti-social behaviour associated with off-road bikes.
The water-based tagging spray can mark equipment, clothing or skin with a uniquely-coded, invisible dye that provides forensic evidence to link individuals or items to a specific crime.
Since the launch of the pilot, officers have seen a 70% reduction in reports of motorbike-related anti-social behaviour in South Shields.
Areas to the north of Sunderland including Roker, Seaburn and Fulwell have seen a 54% reduction in reports since 2018.
The overall number of reports across both Sunderland and South Tyneside has dropped by 38% year-on-year.
Chief Inspector Sam Rennison, of Northumbria Police, believes the DNA spray is acting as a significant deterrent to riders.
“The figures are incredibly encouraging and it is no coincidence that we have seen a significant decrease in reports of motorbike-related anti-social behaviour across the board since the DNA spray pilot was introduced.
“Quite simply, our message is getting out there.
“Those who ride around on bikes committing crime realise our officers are now carrying this equipment, which can be used as evidence to prove their guilt and bring offenders before the courts.”
Between January and June 2018, police received 749 reports of motorbike-related anti-social behaviour.
This dropped to 463 during the same period this year.
West Shields and Riverside, which incorporates South Shields, saw 190 incidents of motorbike-related anti-social behaviour reported to police during the first six months of 2018, but that figure dropped to just 57 this year.
In Sunderland North the number of reports plummeted from 96 to 46.
Last month, the DNA spray was deployed for the first time in South Shields following a report of three riders on off-road motorbikes on Sea Road. Inquiries are ongoing to trace those involved.