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The United Kingdom is well known for having the world’s largest DNA database, due largely to its aggressive collection of DNA samples from all arrestees of crimes ranging from begging to homicide. A new partnership between Stagecoach South bus company and the Hampshire Constabulary means that even more samples will be collected and compared to the database. All 140 Basingstoke and 160 Aldershot bus drivers now have forensic DNA swab kits on board to collect evidence from passengers who spit on them.

The Hampshire News reports the spitting problem, while relatively small, presents a real health concern. The managing director of Stagecoach South, Andrew Dyer, explained that many communicable diseases, including hepatitis, can be transmitted through spitting. Mr. Dyer said, “We take the safety of our bus drivers very seriously and this is a way of deterring crime. Spitting incidents are unpleasant, and we want to take every step to ensure the safety of our drivers and passengers.” Mr. Dyer added the kit could be used if a passenger was to spit on another passenger or on the bus. Each kit includes contains 2 swabs, a pair of rubber gloves, and a police evidence bag in which the driver places the swabs of the collected spittle. Law enforcement attempts to identify the offender by checking the sample against the National DNA Database (NDNAD).

Everyone involved, including the bus company representatives and the police personnel, are pleased with how the scheme’s introduction has gone so far. The hope is that the initiative will alert would-be offenders that spitting will not be tolerated, and they can expect full prosecution by the bus company. The Hampshire Constabulary fully supports the program and has provided advice on the type of saliva kit to use, as well as training for the staff and frontline officers on the processes to be followed. The goal is to dramatically reduce or eliminate the spitting offenses committed by passengers while on the Stagecoach South bus lines.

This story illustrates the aggressive use of the science of DNA and human identification that the United Kingdom employs to combat crime of any nature.

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