Criminals often get caught because they leave their DNA at the scene. Now police could soon be solving crimes by leaving DNA on the criminals.
A Midlands company has helped develop a gun which fires pellets filled with artificial DNA from a distance of up to 40 metres.
The bullets leave a unique tell-tale mark on the suspect which is only visible under ultraviolet light. It will enable police to 'tag' an individual so they can arrest the person later at a less confrontational time.
The technique could be useful in public disorder situations in which large numbers of people are committing offences at the same time. Each batch of pellets has its own unique DNA signature, so police would be able to link a suspect to a particular crime scene.
Two firms have been working together on the idea.
One of them, DNA Tag Systems, is run by two men involved in the paintballing industry, Don Logan from Nottingham and Simon Richards-Cole from Grantham.
Mr Logan runs an outdoor activity centre in Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire. He says the idea was borne out of frustration after watching news reports on the 2011 riots.
– Don Logan
"I jokingly said to a colleague that we should give the police paintball guns and we took that idea and incorporated a unique DNA coding solution into the process."
The gun was recently unveiled at an exhibition in Nevada, USA. There's already been widespread interest from law enforcement agencies around the world, including a number of police forces in the UK.
One is considering carrying out trials which could begin by the end of the year.