Graffiti in public places can make passengers feel unsafe and,
if not dealt with quickly, can lead to further undesirable activity
taking place. It can also create a climate of fear for those
using and working on the railways.
Graffiti also poses safety issues. Vandals often put their lives
at risk in the act of spraying difficult surfaces, such as bridges
or trains in sidings.
And the costs of cleaning up are enormous:
- Network Rail estimate that it costs at least £5million per year
to clean up graffiti, not including the loss of revenue or delays
caused to the service.
- London Underground meanwhile says graffiti costs them a minimum
of £10million per year, and it would cost about £38million to
replace all of the graffiti-etched windows on every Tube
- Dealing with graffiti also diverts valuable police and
staff resources. Hundreds of thousands of staff hours are taken up
in cleaning, repairs and police time.
- London Underground devotes some 70,000 hours a year just to
cleaning up graffiti.
With these issues in mind, we work with rail operators to
achieve reductions in this type of crime. In 2012/13 the total
number of graffiti-related offences reported to BTP was down seven
per cent on the previous year.
Graffiti vandals fall into two main categories – the serious
vandals and the opportunistic scrawlers. We take different
approaches to tackle each.
The serious vandal
There are a small number of serious graffiti vandals in the
country who do a lot of damage to the rail
Our officers mount operations to detect offenders, painstakingly
gathering evidence, targeting suspects, implementing handwriting
and forensic analysis and using surveillance.
For serious vandals, who normally use "tags" to identify
themselves, the aim is to get their work seen by as many people as
possible. As a result, we encourage rail companies to take trains
out of service as soon as the offence is discovered to act as a
We also employ a number of prevention techniques that have
proved successful against the serious vandal. Our Crime Reduction
Advisors work with railway businesses on security for sidings and
sheds, stations and trains and we recommend the use of
anti-graffiti surfaces and paints to deter offenders.
Serious vandals are often involved with other types of crime,
such as drugs and robberies, and our efforts to bring them to
justice can help to reduce other instances of crime on the railways
We have found that the best way to tackle the opportunist
scrawler is to implement robust prevention techniques, such as
those mentioned above, combined with good station design with all
round visibility. We also encourage the use of video surveillance
cameras to act as a deterrent.