Sunday, April 25, 2004
DNA kits to combat spitting menace
The Scotsman: "BUS drivers in Edinburgh are to be issued with DNA kits in an effort to catch people who spit on them while they are working.

More than 1,800 employees at the city’s two main bus firms are to be given the kits to secure evidence and encourage more reporting of incidents.

About one driver a week is reported to police as having been spat on, although the actual figure is believed to be twice as high because many incidents go unreported. The move, instigated by Lothian and Borders Police, follows the introduction of the 'spit kits' on the London Underground, ScotRail services and on some buses in Glasgow.

The kits include sterile swabs to pick up any trace of an offender’s DNA. The packs also contain a pair of latex gloves and an evidence collection bag.

New laws mean anyone arrested for any offence can be DNA-tested and their unique profile added to the national database. Any DNA matches can be made within a matter of seconds.

Martin White, public transport liaison officer at Lothian and Borders Police, said: 'These kits have been hugely successful in obtaining first-class evidence which can be used to secure a court conviction.

'Spitting is a fairly common crime on buses in Edinburgh, although we feel there is still quite a bit of unreporting of it by drivers, as they may believe it is a hazard of the job to be spat on.

'However, it is an offence we view very seriously indeed and it is treated just the same as any other assault.'

Bill Campbell, the operations manager for Lothian Buses, which employs 1,400 drivers, said: 'As far as we’re concerned, spitting on the driver is exactly the same as any other form of assault and is completely unacceptable.'

More than 25 bus passengers faced assault charges for spitting at drivers following the introduction of the saliva recovery kits on all services run by First in Glasgow last September."

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