Crack down on bus spitters

Those who spit on bus drivers or passengers are now more likely to face long jail sentences, transport and police bosses have warned.

The act of spitting has moved to potentially being life threatening for victims following the coronavirus outbreak. The development comes after the recent death of a London ticket collector following an attack.

Last month, a 43-year-old man from Northfield, Birmingham was jailed for 17 weeks for spitting at a bus driver after refusing to pay his fare.

But new figures have revealed that during the year to March 31, 2020, while there was a fall in all other types of recorded crime on the West Midlands bus network, there was an increase in common assault incidents. This increase was to a large extent accounted for by incidents of spitting, with male bus drivers frequently being the target. 10% of attacks have also been racially aggravated.

The Safer Travel Partnership, through which West Midlands Police, British Transport Police and Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) collaborate to fight crime on buses, trains and trams, has been encouraging more drivers and passengers to report incidents.

Measures taken include:

  • Issuing DNA spit kits to all drivers meaning that vital DNA evidence is now gathered in more than half of incidents
  • A dedicated Safer Travel team officer dealing with incidents
  • Driver training to encourage reporting of incidents and to improve the quality of evidence gathered
  • Regular electronic bulletins to bus company staff highlighting incidents, arrests and successful prosecutions
  • Since the coronavirus outbreak the talk holes in driver screens have been covered to further protect staff

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