Anti-social passengers stopped in their tracks

Northumbria Police is the latest force to deploy ‘spit kits’ to tackle anti-social bus passengers.

Apr 10, 2008
By Paul Jacques
L-R: Alison Lowe, John Robins, chief constable of West Yorkshire Police, and Mayor Tracy Brabin

Northumbria Police is the latest force to deploy ‘spit kits’ to tackle anti-social bus passengers.

The force has teamed up with Go North East and Stagecoach to tackle bad behaviour by using the ‘spit kits’ to identify offenders through DNA. Now the scheme, piloted in Gateshead, Newcastle, Sunderland and South Shields, is set to go forcewide.

The idea of training bus drivers to use DNA spit kits and collect samples to identify offenders was originally piloted in London, then picked up by Sergeant Nicole Crossley of Gateshead area command when she attended a Transport Alert meeting run by Nexus, the Tyne and Wear Passenger Transport Executive.

Sgt Crossley said: “If a driver is spat at they will take a swab and pass it on to us so we can send it for analysis.

“It’s a huge opportunity to both detect and prevent these kinds of offences and sends out a very powerful message that offenders will be caught and dealt with.

“We’ve had an excellent response from the bus companies who want to see this kind of behaviour stamped out on their vehicles.”

The force has now had enquiries from other police forces and other emergency services about the initiative.

Martin Harris, commercial director with Go North East, said: “Although incidents of anti-social behaviour on our buses are low, we want to see them eradicated.

“Encouraging our drivers to carry DNA spit kits is one of a number of initiatives we have in place which enable us to provide valuable evidence to the police and it’s always rewarding from the point of view of our staff and passengers when this leads to a successful prosecution.”

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