Station graffiti ‘shames our city’

PARTS of Bristol’s public transport are “unsafe” because of a lack of CCTV and lighting, while graffiti has made Montpelier railway station look like “The Bronx”, a campaigner warned.

Passenger champion David Redgewell told a council meeting that many bus and train stations and shelters felt intimidating, the public were treated as though “we don’t exist” and that the police were not patrolling the network enough.

Avon & Somerset Police says it works closely with Bristol City Council in tackling illegal graffiti and runs regular operations targeting taggers, while British Transport Police (BTP) says both uniform and plain clothes officers patrol the train network around the clock.

Bristol Public Transport Community Safety Partnership member Mr Redgewell told councillors that the authorities did not fully understand or grapple with the issues facing public transport users.

He said: “In combined authority areas like Manchester and Birmingham, much more effort is put into making sure the public transport network is safe.

“We have only just succeeded in getting cameras put up at local railway stations but only a few of them are on the control centre.

“We have graffiti and abuse in some of those stations and some of them are unsafe.

“Montpelier looks more like The Bronx than it does a Bristol station, but this is the public transport network our citizens have to travel on.

“We get graffiti on bus stops and shelters, and lighting does not work – that is not safe, graffiti makes passengers feel unsafe

“In fact students in Rupert Street tag the very building they live in in broad daylight opposite the main Bristol police station making the bus stops on both sides feel unsafe at night.”

Mr Redgwell said he had not seen any prosecutions for illegal graffiti or tagging.

“If the city and public transport are to be safe, the police need to do more travelling and we need lighting at bus stops, shelters and stations. It’s as though we as the citizens who use the network don’t exist, and that is not acceptable.

“I want to see more action, more policing, more responsibility and more acceptance of the need to make sure the public transport network is protected.

“It’s got to be safe and we have got to make sure it’s safe.”

An Avon & Somerset Police spokesperson said: “We work closely with our partners at Bristol City Council to tackle illegal graffiti.

“Together, we run regular operations utilising a range of resources and tactics including officers in plain clothes and CCTV, to identify those responsible for tagging.

“People can report damage to property by graffiti to us via our website:”

A British Transport Police spokesperson said: “BTP officers patrol across the railway network in Bristol day and night in both uniform and plain clothes to deter crime and reassure the travelling public. We’d always encourage anyone with any concerns while travelling to text us discreetly on 61016.”

Network Rail and First Great Western, which are responsible for infrastructure at railway stations such as lighting, CCTV cameras and removing graffiti, were asked for comment but did not respond.

By Adam Postans, Local Democracy Reporting Service