AN investigation which helped send a cash-in-transit armed robbery gang to prison for 50 years could land a prestigious award.

The partnership between Lancashire Police and Applied DNA Sciences resulted in a pioneering criminal invest-igation in the UK.

It was the first in the country to use DNA coding of bank notes and led to the jailing of an East Lancashire gang for two armed robberies.

In May, Dean Farrell, David Evans, Colin McCash, Simon Ginn and James Mulholland were sentenced to at least 50 years for their parts in two raids in Preston Old Road, Cherry Tree, Blackburn, and Thornton Cleveleys in 2008.

A security guard for cash-in-transit delivery firm Loomis was shot in the leg during the Blackburn raid.

Detectives from the Force Major Incident Team said ‘ground-breaking’ technology helped put the case together.

They were able to link stolen notes spent by McCash in an Accrington petrol station to the exact cashbox stolen in the raid.

A unique DNA code made from plant material is deployed inside any box and sprays the notes if the box is tampered with.

Since the creation of this process, the laboratory has dealt with 33 different cases from five different police force areas and has achieved a 100per cent success rate in linking submissions to dye-stained stolen cash.

This has resulted in 15 individuals being convicted of offences.

Now the link-up has been put forward as one of three finalists for the Excellence in Policing award 2010.

Detective Superintendent Neil Hunter said: “Working with ADNAS during our investig-ation and the ground- breaking work around linking and identifying the staining on the notes to the money that was stolen during the robbery was crucial.

“It contributed massively to achieving a successful conv-iction against the offenders involved in the robbery, where the security guard was shot, and is a great example of part-nership working”

Dr James A. Hayward, CEO of ADNAS, said: “Cash-in-transit employees, the general public, and the industry as a whole, are more secure as a direct result of our joint effort.”