Anorak News | Spitting Mad: London Bus Drivers Swab Passengers

Spitting Mad: London Bus Drivers Swab Passengers

by | 2nd, June 2007

london-bus.jpgHERE comes the bus. There goes the bus.

Too full. No room. But you can see empty seat son the top deck. Keep cool.

Here’s another.

It’s here. The doors open. One please. “Got a ticket?” Sorry. “Tick-et. Need to buy tick-et before gett-ing on bus.” No change. “Over there. Shop.” The drive has no change? “No.” Will the driver wait? “No.” Off the bus. Buy a ticket. Another one along soon. Keep cool.
The bus stops. You push the pram onboard. “No,” says the driver. No prams. “Fold it.” But how do you fold up a sleeping child and all the shopping underneath? Can the driver help? “No.” Off the bus.
You are unhappy. You are spitting mad. And then the driver removes a pair of sterile latex gloves, a self-sealing bag and two sterile swabs to collect a sample to prevent the evidence being sprayed from your foaming maw. It’s a swab kit. A spit kit. He dusts the screen. He calls the police. The police come. You are charged with some form of assault.

A TfL spokeswoman says: “We have spit kits at every London Underground station, where they have been used successfully in a number of police investigations of assaults.” And this summer they are on the London buses.
DNA kits will allow drivers to take swabs of saliva that can be passed to the police and checked against criminal records. As reported: “Transport for London says that about seven out of 10 samples provides a match.”

What does this say about the type of people who travel on public transport? Is spitting a sign of a criminal mind? Do people in cars spit? Do the police swab as routine, storing information on both innocent and guilty?

The bus driver’s powers are in response to youth crime. As the BBC says:

“Reported youth crime on buses has shot up by 55% since the introduction of free bus travel for under 16-year-olds. There were 5,701 reports in the year since the scheme went live in September 2005 compared with 3,666 in the previous year, official figures show.”

TfL says it is spending £70m a year to deploy 1,200 police community safety officers (PCSOs) on the bus network. A PSCO can detain someone until a constable arrives, direct traffic, remove vehicles and issue fixed penalty notices for anti-social behaviour. It’s quite the thing for uniform fetishists and people unable to make it as a real copper.
Tom Scanlon, of the Transport & General Workers’ (T&GW) Union, says: “It is important for the travelling public to recognise that the bus driver has a stressful and responsible job to do and should not be put under added pressure.”

Quite so. Can’t have the driver being intimated if she is to drive safely. She could do with that spit kit. Hell, she could do with a conductor…

Posted: 2nd, June 2007 | In: Reviews Comment (1) | TrackBack | Permalink