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Last Updated: Monday, 26 January, 2004, 10:54 GMT
Cameras to prevent rail graffiti
Graffiti on a train
Graffiti costs Central Trains an estimated 300,000 a year
Security cameras that can detect movement are being used in a hi-tech effort to prevent graffiti attacks on the railways.

Central Trains says it is the first UK rail company to introduce the motion-sensitive cameras at stations.

The "FlashCam" takes a photograph of the culprit and issues an audible warning that the police are on their way.

Central Trains says graffiti costs the company about 300,000 each year to clean up.

'Leave now'

A spokesman for the company said such attacks frequently caused trains to be cancelled, especially if the offending words were racist and needed to be removed immediately.

The train operator says it copes with an average of about one incident each week, with the worst hotspots being in Royal Leamington Spa, Nottingham, Boston and Worcester.

FlashCams were placed at train sidings in Worcester and Leamington last week.

The firm said it intends to invest in up to 30 more of the devices at notorious graffiti spots across its network, which extends across the Midlands up to the North West and down to south Wales.

Graffiti artists are putting their lives at risk by trespassing on the sidings

Spokesman Ged Burgess

If the technology detects any movements it will sound the warning: "Stop. You are in a secured area. Leave now - the British Transport Police have been contacted and are on their way."

Central Trains said the equipment, which was first used in the United States, costs 1,300 per unit.

Peter Cushing, operations director for Central Trains, said: "Graffiti has been an ongoing problem for a long time and now we are determined to stamp it out once and for all.

"The camera has a motion sensor built into it, a flash 35mm camera and a loudspeaker.

"It's not deafening - but it's enough to put anyone off who wants to do graffiti there."

Cost bonus

Central Trains spokesman Ged Burgess added: "(The FlashCam) has been very successful in reducing graffiti in the railway yards in the US, which is a far bigger problem there than it is here.

"Nevertheless, we are hoping that it will result in a reduction in the inconvenience that passengers have when their trains are not in service because we are having to clean graffiti off the windows.

"We also hope it will improve safety because, at the end of the day, graffiti artists are putting their lives at risk by trespassing on the sidings."

"The added bonus for us is that these can be installed for 1,300 per unit - a fraction of the cost of CCTV systems - which can be up to 30,000 each."

Police are already studying the first rolls of film in the hope of identifying those responsible for the latest acts of vandalism.


SEE ALSO:
Graffiti threaten rail prices
22 Dec 03  |  Southern Counties
Bus shelters turn Big Brother
13 Jun 03  |  West Midlands
The plan to 'legalise' graffiti
05 Nov 02  |  UK News


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