A NEW fast-track system means some suspected burglars are being arrested within hours of committing their alleged crimes in West Yorkshire.
The project, Operation Converter, is making the most of science to catch criminals as quickly as possible, before they can heap more misery on other victims,
Under the scheme, evidence such as fingerprints, shoeprints DNA samples and photos are rushed to West Yorkshire Police's scientific support unit in Wakefield by courier.
It is analysed quickly, and if it matches data stored on a suspect, a special police team swoops to make a fast arrest.
Some suspected burglars have even been arrested on the day they committed the alleged offence.
The system has been used mainly for burglaries and car crime.
Police say this new way of working has led to a major rise in detection rates, along with an increase in the recovery of stolen property.
Since the scheme was rolled out across the force last October, the level of burglary detections from scientific evidence grew to 46.2%, as against 33.5% for the same period in 2002.
For vehicle crime the figure for detections arising from science leaped to 37.7%, compared to 22% the previous year.
Det Supt Michael Fickling, head of West Yorkshire Police's Scientific Support Unit, said: "Operation Converter is proving highly effective.
"We have very significantly raised detections arising from science at minimal cost.
"A number of other police forces are now looking to replicate the West Yorkshire system," he added.
The key players in this innovative operation - which won praise from the Inspectorate of Constabulary in its latest report on the force - are staff at the Scientific Support Unit's fingerprint, shoe-mark and DNA bureaux and its imaging and intelligence units.
Vital roles are also played by scenes of crime officers, along with the national Forensic Science Service and the Converter arrest teams at each of West Yorkshire's 11 police divisions, including Huddersfield.