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Virgin Media O2 UK Starts Trial to Tackle Vandalised Cabinets

Monday, January 24th, 2022 (10:53 am) - Score 7,992

A new 6-month long trial has been launched by broadband ISP and mobile operator Virgin Media (VMO2) in the City of York, which will see the provider working alongside the city council to repaint vandalised street cabinets and bring them back to their original state.

Sadly, vandalism and graffiti remain an all-too-common problem for telecoms street cabinets, as well as various other pieces of street furniture and infrastructure (Openreach and other operators suffer this too, so it’s by no means unique to Virgin). For example, Virgin Media notes that up to 200 cabinets are vandalised every single year, and that’s just in York!

To kickstart the scheme, damaged cabinets are being repainted, and new cabinet stickers will also be applied, making it easier than ever for local people to report damaged or vandalised cabinets. It is anticipated this will help speed up incident reporting and reduce the number of cabinets that are vandalised.

Locals can report graffiti online here: www.york.gov.uk/reportgraffiti or report it to VMO2 directly by calling 0330 333 0444. Callers will be asked to provide as much detail about the location of the cabinets as possible to help the team locate them (e.g. street name, nearby shop or business etc.).


Paul Edwards, Director of Field Engineering & Operations at VMO2, said:

“Through this innovative trial with City of York Council, we hope to make it faster and easier to remove graffiti from our on-street cabinets. Damage to our cabinets and equipment can cause customers to lose the vital services they rely on, so we’re committed to tackling this problem and keeping our customers connected.”

Cllr Paula Widdowson, City of York Council, said:

“We are really pleased to be able to join forces with Virgin Media O2. To be part of the first deal of its kind with them is important to us and it places us at the very forefront of tackling vandalism and graffiti.

Graffiti is criminal damage and a selfish act which spoils the local environment for residents and visitors alike. We hope this sends a clear message that we will not tolerate this type of vandalism. Following the trial, we hope to roll this partnership out further and are already in constructive talks with several other companies.”

Sadly the focus above is largely on repairs, rather than prevention, although realistically there are limits to what an operator can do on the prevention side of things. Cabinets have always been easy targets for such behaviour.

The catch with all this is that it could become quite a constant (repetitive) and thus expensive process, particularly in some areas where vandals can strike multiple times, and also if extended across the UK. Hopefully VMO2’s new trial will find a workable balance.

UPDATE 11:08am

We asked for a few more details on this and VMO2 informed us that, under the deal, teams from York council will go and “help” to repaint the cabinets. The council already have teams that do this sort of work on a daily basis, so by adapting those to include street cabinets then the issues may be sorted faster. This might also help to bring the costs down.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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15 Responses
  1. Bon says:

    I’ve cable-tied the door shut on the one at the end of our road – it was looking a right state for months and VM didn’t seem interested.

    1. Buggerlugz says:

      Same here, reported it numerous times, nothing changed, was always hanging off with all the cables exposed to the elements so I did the same.

  2. Ad says:

    I’ve often noticed that Virgin Media cabinets seem to be a favourite to have graffiti or be damaged compared to other cabinets. Is that down to a lack of maintenance and tidying up by VM, the grey paint or something else?

    Not sure they help themselves though, a lot of the cabinets are very cheaply built with flimsy materials especially the passive cabinets. Also not sure randomly placing cabinets in the most convenient point for VM without thinking about the people who live there and use the pavement helps. VM have just woken up to Openreach and Altnets installing around me and they are now filling in the areas they didn’t do (newer houses) and expanding the beyond their old boundary in the city. Communication has been non-existent or terrible.

    They’ve just installed a fibre cabinet and an active cabinet on the pavement next to a bungalow near me without a permit from the council for the work, the same distance the other way is a 100m stretch of wide pavement with no houses on that side of the road, a sensible planner would have put them there. The run from the Openreach chamber is about the same it just required crossing a road so they went for the easy for them and bad for residents location. I am sure that house will enjoy the sound of the cabinet in their home and garden on hot days.

  3. Peter says:

    Hope the trial goes well and councils can repaint these as they become vandalised. They always look a mess and bring an area down. I think a while ago either OpenReach or VM were looking at wraps for them? Wonder if that is something that wouldn’t be sprayed over as easily as its not a empty canvas for them. Expect anti graffiti paint is too expensive? They used it in a newly repainted subway in a city near me before to combat a similar issue.

  4. Tom says:

    Looks abandoned for a while but a good record of the state of their cabinets:

    1. Squidgy says:

      Looks like an Openreach DSLAM cabinet to me

  5. Yorkiebar says:

    As a York resident paying tax to CoYC I’m peeved. I don’t and won’t use VM so why am I paying for the upkeep on cabinets ? I’ve seen two lately that have had a kicking yet the Cityfibre cabs right next to it still look box fresh.

    1. John says:

      Maybe you guys over there should NOT have raised your kids in a barn. I think it’s only fair the council collect money for cleaning after your kids since mostly residents living there failed.

  6. Ray Leeds says:

    Virgin engineers can leave cabinet doors open when they leave I have seen them drive away our cabinets are just around the corner from us, I get on the phone as soon as I see the doors open you can see the wires and everything, It can take days for them to close them and they have graffiti on them as well, I have to say you don’t see the green openreach cabinets left open.

    1. Jonathan Louis says:

      I have to agree with that I often see it to many times walking past and not see a virgin cabinet open maybe your right I never thought it was them I did think it was kids leaving it open but it makes sense obviously I see it and I have to report it to virgin and they do send them out to close the door and before I do think its kids opening the door Ray leads

  7. FibreBubble says:

    Council tax payers subsidise Virgin lacklustre cabinet maintenance.

  8. Jonathan Louis says:

    I’m often finding virgin media cabinets are often opened up via kids leaving the door wide open and showing the contents inside they don’t know what there messing with so they open the cabinet door with a key of some sort to open it up and leave the door open untill I report it to virgin and they send them out to close it and next few days its open again kids messing with it in my local town area flipping nuisance

  9. John Densley says:

    I have tried ringing the Virgin number to report the cabinet in my street and it is useless. The cabinet has been open for months.

    1. Nicholas Booth says:

      There are no phone numbers or email addresses or Twitter haldes that anyone responds to.

      you might get an answer but the chances are it’s machine generated.

  10. Regorimabitbackward says:

    How about with broadband available onsite fit street cabinet with closed circuit tv with proximity sensor which can be monitored upon operation and help identify culprits, just a thought.

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