Edinburgh police hunt youth who attacked Lothian bus driver as Clermiston evening services resume - and bus firm ‘will not hesitate’ to pull future services

Police are appealing for witnesses after a bus driver was assaulted by a youth, leading to the suspension of evening services in part of the city at the weekend.

Monday, 8th March 2021, 5:38 pm
Updated Tuesday, 9th March 2021, 2:00 pm

Lothian Bus services into Clermiston have returned to normal today after being suspended from 7pm on Saturday and Sunday following the serious attack in the Drumbrae area, at about 10pm on Friday night.

The bus had been travelling along Drum Brae Drive towards Corstorphine Hill when it came to a halt at a bus stop.

A group of youths - three boys and a girl aged between 15 and 18 - were attempting to tamper with the bus from outside - and when the driver got off to stop them he was assaulted by one.

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Police in Edinburgh are appealing for witnesses.

The suspect is described as 6ft tall, of slim build and wearing a black jacket.

Inspector Johnny Elliott, of Drylaw Police Station, said: “This was an unprovoked assault on a man who was simply trying to do his job and it is vital we trace the individuals involved.

“I am appealing for anyone who was in the area on Friday evening and either witnessed the incident, or noticed a group of youths matching the above description behaving suspiciously, to get in touch.

“I would also ask any motorists with dash-cams who were on the roads at the time to please check their footage in case they have captured anything which could be of significance.

“Anyone with information should contact police on 101, quoting incident number 3774 of 5 March. Alternatively, you can contact the Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”

Inspector Elliott also stressed that bus drivers have been providing an essential service, including transport to and from hospitals, and called it “disgraceful” that they have been targeted in this way.

He also said this behaviour “will not be tolerated” and that dedicated officers will be on patrol in the area to make sure buses can operate safely.

‘Extremely disappointing’

Sarah Boyd, operations director of Lothian Buses, stressed drivers have played a “critical role” in keeping services operating for key workers during the pandemic and said it was “extremely disappointing” they were being targeted at various locations across Edinburgh.

Ms Boyd said: “Following a serious incident on Friday evening and a significant increase in instances of antisocial behaviour, we made the difficult decision to remove services from the Clermiston area on Saturday and Sunday evenings.

“Whilst we offer our sincere apologies to any of our customers who were inconvenienced, the safety of our drivers and customers remains our absolute priority and we will not hesitate to take similar action again if necessary.

“Working closely with Police Scotland we will continue to monitor the situation as our services return to Clermiston this evening.”

Services 1, 21, 26 and Skylink 200 will return to Clermiston as scheduled, supported by an increased police presence on the ground.

Last Tuesday night, a Lothian bus driver was also injured in the Niddrie area when the front window was smashed by an object, resulting in shards of glass covering him. A 15-year-old boy has since been charged in connection with the incident.

In late February, three children were charged with antisocial behaviour and public damages offences in the southwest of the city, after police stepped up patrols on public transport. Those involved were alleged to have smashed a bus window and thrown poo at a staff member.

Operation Proust has been set up following an increase in antisocial behaviour on and around buses in Edinburgh, with a number of buses being damaged. The joint operation between Police Scotland and Lothian Buses aims to educate young people, identify those responsible for the vandalism and to keep staff and passengers safe by tackling disorder and antisocial behaviour.

Councillor Lesley Macinnes, Transport and Environment convener, also described the situation as “incredibly disappointing.”

She said: “These appalling actions are completely unacceptable at any time but right now, during an extremely difficult period for the city, they are putting even more pressure on those carrying out an indispensable service for people who live here.

“This must be so frightening for drivers, and passengers making essential journeys – I would ask anyone with information relating to these incidents that can help Police Scotland track down those responsible to come forward as a matter of urgency. If you suspect a member of your family is involved please take this very seriously and help us to prevent any further incidents.”

Anyone with information should contact Police Scotland on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. For up to date service information customers are encouraged to check www.lothianbuses.co.uk or the TfE mobile app before travelling.