Spitting at bus drivers being tackled in West Midlands

People caught spitting at a bus drivers or passengers in the West Midlands are increasingly likely to face jail sentences thanks to work by the Safer Transport Partnership.

The Safer Transport Partnership, through which West Midlands Police, British Transport Police and Transport for West Midlands collaborate to fight crime on public transport in the region, is now further encouraging bus drivers and passenger to report incidents of spitting.

It says that there was an increase in common assault incidents on the West Midlands bus network in the year to March 31. That was largely accounted for by spitting. To help combat that, DNA ‘spit kits’ have been issued to all drivers and a dedicated Safer Travel team officer is dealing with incidents.

Additionally, driver training is underway to encourage the reporting of incidents. Regular electronic bulletins are sent to bus operator staff to highlight incidents, arrests and successful prosecutions.

The Safer Travel Partnership says that when DNA evidence is combined with onboard cameras, there is a 75% chance of identifying attackers.

Courts have come down hard on individuals who are convicted of spitting at drivers. In June 2019 a 28-year old was jailed for 14 weeks. In April this year, a 43-year old was sentenced to 17 weeks.

Says National Express West Midlands Managing Director David Bradford: “We work very closely with the Safer Travel team and we have ‘spit kits’ on every bus. They give us irrefutable DNA evidence to help us to track down offenders and secure convictions.”