London’s bus drivers who are spat at will be able to collect the saliva in a DNA ‘spit kit’ so the assailant can be identified when their saliva samples are sent off to the police national database for analysis. The kits have been used in Tube stations for years.
At the same time, the Metropolitan Police Service’s Transport Operational Command unit is setting up a work place violence unit to investigate violence against bus drivers across London. And new guidelines for courts have recommended tougher sentences for those who assault people working in the public sector or provide a service to the public such as bus drivers and tube staff.
Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: “We have the finest bus drivers in the world in London and it saddens me that they may find themselves the victims of this disgusting activity. These kits will increase the likelihood of being able to track down perpetrators and sends them a clear message that this foul behaviour will not be tolerated.
“We are determined to make public transport a safer place through measures such as the ban on passengers carrying open containers of alcohol and I am aware that this will ask more of our drivers. However, I hope they will agree that by providing support such as the new workplace violence unit we are fulfilling our pledge to protect them.”
Steve Burton, director of community safety and enforcement at Transport for London, added: “Spitting at drivers is unacceptable and will not be tolerated and with these DNA kits … London’s bus drivers can collect the DNA evidence needed for a successful prosecution.”
– The London Assembly’s transport spokesperson Val Shawcross has accused Boris Johnson of ignoring people with disabilities by replacing bendy buses with a new generation of Routemaster style vehicles. The Mayor’s comment that conductors would help people on and off the platform was “deeply patronising” and offensive to people with disabilities, parents with buggies and elderly people. “It’s a pretty Victorian attitude,” she said.
– Transport unions are not happy at the appointment of Tim Parker as TfL head. Parker was once dubbed “the Prince of Darkness” by unions and has a reputation for cutting costs. He will also become First Deputy Mayor and Chief Executive of the GLA Group and will be paid a £1 salary.
Paul Kenny, general secretary of the GMB union, said: “This is a scary moment for London’s commuters. Tim Parker is one of the multimillionaire elite private-equity buccaneers who asset- stripped the AA by cutting jobs and cutting services and raising prices to customers.”
Bob Crow, general secretary of the Rail Maritime and Transport union, said: “The world’s finest metro system does not need an asset-stripper or a Prince of Darkness.”