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Friday, January 30, 1998 Published at 21:55 GMT


Symphonies soothe train vandals
image: [ Youths just can't bear hanging out to the sounds of 'utterly boring' music ]
Youths just can't bear hanging out to the sounds of 'utterly boring' music

Operators of the Metro system in Tyneside have found a new way of cutting crime; by thoroughly boring would-be vandals.

They have started playing classical music on loudspeakers to deter youngsters from hanging around one of its vandal-hit stations.

Youths, who once liked to congregate at Shiremoor station, have found the soothing sounds of Frederick Delius too much to take and have moved on elsewhere.

Metro operators say that damage to the company's ticket machines, which costs around 10,000 a year, has dropped significantly over the last three weeks since the scheme was introduced.

Because of the scheme's success, an idea stolen from Toronto Public Transport, Metro operators are considering extending the idea to more of its 46 stations.

Director General of Nexus, Mike Palmer, speaks to BBC Radio's Today programme (3'26")
Mike Palmer, Director General of Nexus which runs the Metro service in Gateshead, said: "The aim is not to soothe but to provide a background of music that people who we are aiming at don't actually like and so they move away.

"It's been pretty successful. Although it's early days to judge, there are less people there and certainly vandalism on those particular ticket machines has gone down."

A crime prevention officer chose Delius' Incidental Music to Hassan from several different classical works.

"He chose Delius as the one that would really put the youths off," enthused Mr Palmer. "They just go away - if we put on Oasis perhaps we'd gather more youths."

Mr Palmer said that the main aim of the scheme is to restore confidence among passengers.

He said: "The problem we have in Tyne and Wear is not actual crime but fear of crime.

"The main problem for us is that we have got youths who gather at one or two stations on our system and our passengers find this threatening. If we can stop youths hanging around stations aimlessly then our passengers will feel more secure and therefore we will gain more revenue."

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