Monday, August 2, 2010

Spit and punish on the streets of London

It may be strictly-controlled Singapore that is best known for criminalising misdemeanours such as spitting, but once laid-back London is not too far behind, it seems.

Out and about in Wembley, in the north-west London borough of Brent, earlier today, I noticed a number of posters imploring residents not to spit paan, a spiced tobacco leaf mixture popular with the area's many South Asian inhabitants.

"Spitting tobacco paan on Brent's pavements is unhygienic and anti-social," the poster warned. "You could be fined £80".

Just up the road, at Sudbury Town tube station, the message became rather sterner.

Would-be spitters were told in another poster that "CCTV images of offenders may be used to report incidents to the British Transport Police".

And, if the CCTV doesn't get you, the DNA database will:

"Samples of saliva may also be passed onto the Police for DNA identification should the problem persist."

I share Brent Council's abhorrence at the practice of spitting paan, or anything else for that matter.

But shouldn't the police be deploying its extensive CCTV network and much-criticised DNA database to fight security threats more pressing than misplaced saliva?

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