New figures from Transport for London (TfL) show a decade of using DNA spit kits to identify perpetrators of spit attacks on staff has contributed to a reduction in such behaviour by 75%.
The kits were first introduced on Zone 1 Tube stations in the summer of 2003 as part of a programme to tackle violent and antisocial behaviour towards staff. Following this successful pilot the kits were distributed to all underground stations in October 2003, and they have helped to track down and convict more than 400 offenders.
TfL also provided kits to all bus drivers in 2008, with the Metropolitan Police Service’s Transport Operational Command unit setting up a workplace violence unit to investigate violence against bus drivers. The kits have also been issued to staff at Victoria Coach Station.
The use of the kits to collect forensic evidence, coupled with publicity about successful convictions in court, has helped to reduce the average number of reported incidences per period to just three. This is down from an average of 12 cases per period when the kits were first introduced. Prior to their introduction, the chances of detection were virtually zero unless a suspect was apprehended at the scene of a crime.
Not only have the kits themselves led to many successful convictions, they have also raised the profile of DNA and other evidence which may be left by a perpetrator of antisocial behaviour.
Aidan Harris, Manager of London Underground’s Workplace Violence Unit said: “What people might not realise is the length of time DNA remains active. It can come from saliva on clothing or on the floor, or even from a tissue or drinks can. Years ago we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to track offenders down. Thanks to these kits we can effectively track down perpetrators.”