More bus drivers are being equipped with specialist DNA packs to help police trace anyone who spits at them or other passengers.
The ‘spit kits’ are now routinely handed out to all National Express West Midlands drivers as part of a joint crackdown with the Safer Travel Partnership on spitting offences.
There were 16 offences reported in just five weeks this spring, including 14 against bus drivers.
A passenger who spat at a bus driver earlier this year was jailed after he was tracked down by West Midlands Police from DNA captured on a ‘spit kit’.
The ticketless passenger spat at the National Express West Midlands driver on 22 February when she insisted he paid for his fare on the number 65 service.
The 28-year-old man fled the bus in Slade Road, Erdington, but staff took a swab of the spittle which, when run through police databases, returned a hit to the offender.
On 2 May he appeared before Birmingham Magistrates Court where he admitted the offence and was sentenced to 14 weeks in prison.
Inspector Rachel Crump, policing lead for the Safer Travel Partnership, said spitting at public transport staff won’t be tolerated and offenders will be pursued.
She said: "We welcome the increased roll out of spit kits to help identify offenders. The DNA samples along with high-definition CCTV on-board all 1,600 National Express West Midlands vehicles − with some vehicles fitted with up to 12 cameras − means there’s a strong chance offenders will be caught. Anti-social behaviour and crime captured on CCTV from National Express West Midlands buses has already resulted in a 75 per cent success rate in identifying offenders.
"Our officers are provided with spit guards to help protect against this disgusting crime and we encourage the use of the kits by our transport partners to also protect them on their duties. The kits are so simple to use and have led to some excellent results for us − and offenders must understand it won’t be tolerated and they risk being jailed."
David Bradford, National Express UK Bus Managing Director, added: "Our staff have the right to work without being spat on and we will pursue anyone who is guilty of this heinous and disgusting behaviour.
"As recent results show, our CCTV footage and DNA spit kits are a simple but effective way of helping Safer Travel Police track these people down, stop them and make sure they face justice."
Published 25th June 2019