The wrap will go out with 175,000 copies in Bexley and Lewisham
The News Shopper this week invited readers to “shop-a-yob” and win a digital camera with a new bingo game.
The south east London-based free weekly pioneered its controversial shop-a-yob campaign three years ago.
The idea was subsequently taken up the Sun.
Using CCTV photographs provided by local bus companies the paper has helped police prosecute hundreds of vandals by encouraging readers to identify them. Some bus companies have reported vandalism to be down 80 per cent as a result of the scheme.
This week the paper published a wrap cover with pictures of 84, mostly juvenile, suspects caught in the act of vandalising buses. To provide an extra incentive, editor Andrew Parkes has given the readers the chance to win digital cameras if they can identify three in a row or get all the corners.
In a front page editorial inviting readers to play the “super shop-a-yob game” he said: “Why should we be terrorised and have things we care about destroyed by jumped up, thoughtless scumbags like this.”
He told Press Gazette: “I’m aware we might be seen as demeaning this a little bit but I’m not playing down what these people are doing, we just want to catch as many as possible. It provides an incentive for people to look at it and hopefully will capture their attention.”
The wrap has been sponsored by London Central Buses and will be distributed with 175,000 copies of the paper’s Bexley and Lewisham editions.
When all the shop-a-yob bingo names are in, Parkes said Bexley police are planning a 5am round-up of all the suspects. He said he expected around 75 per cent of the people featured to end up being prosecuted.
He said: “What we don’t want is people to be pictured and then not rounded up because some like the notoriety. If we feature them we have to have police taking action and fortunately we’ve got some guys on board from Bexley Police who are doing exactly that.”
He added: “We’ve been accused of setting ourselves up as judge and jury but if you are a decent law-abiding member of society you have got no chance of being featured. We are only featuring people who have been caught on camera committing these crimes and we’ll stand by it.”
By Dominic Ponsford