A ticketless passenger who spat at a National Express West Midlands driver when she insisted he must pay for his fare has been sentenced to 14 weeks in prison after being tracked down by his DNA.

Specialist DNA packs known as spit kits are being routinely handed out to all National Express West Midlands drivers as part of a joint crackdown with the Safer Travel Partnership on spitting offences.

In just five weeks this spring, the company recorded 14 offences against bus drivers.

The passenger sentenced by Birmingham Magistrates Court was tracked down by West Midlands Police after staff took a swab of the spittle which, when run through police databases, returned a hit to the offender.

Inspector Rachel Crump, policing lead for the Safer Travel Partnership, said spitting at public transport staff will not be tolerated and offenders will be pursued.

“The DNA samples along with high-definition CCTV on-board all 1600 National Express West Midlands vehicles — with some vehicles fitted with up to 12 cameras — means there’s a strong chance offenders will be caught,” she pointed out.

Anti-social behaviour and crime captured on CCTV from National Express West Midlands buses has already resulted in a 75% success rate in identifying offenders, the Inspector highlighted.

The kits are simple to use and have led to some excellent results, she concluded, and offenders must understand that they risk being jailed.

David Bradford, National Express UK Bus Managing Director, added: “Our staff have the right to work without being spat on and we will pursue anyone who is guilty of this heinous and disgusting behaviour.”

Last reviewed 10 July 2019