Begging on the Tube

Has anyone else noticed the rise in the number of people begging on the Underground? Especially on the lines where the trains are now set up so you can walk through all the carriages. It’s rare for me to get an Overground on the Croydon line that doesn’t have someone begging, and yesterday at Liverpool St I saw a guy walk on, start his pitch, then realise someone was already on so had to get off.

It’s obviously a sad symptom of how broken our fucking society is. I don’t begrudge them doing it but I am surprised that TfL doesn’t take a harder stance on it. I would’ve thought they’d be very keen to stamp it out and make it someone else’s problem?

I think people get on Overground lines because it’s easier to change trains/avoid tapping in & out. Very sad though. Have seen some people get quite aggy in response which is obviously an extremely useful thing to do

Bizarrely as i read this on the Circle Line i heard an automated announcement for the first time saying that beggars and buskers were on the train and that you shouldn’t encourage them by giving them money.

I don’t get the Croydon Overground that often, but I reckon 90% of the times that I have there has been a beggar.

I always feel bad as nowadays I normally pay by contactless meaning that I rarely have loose change.

I’m alright with it.

Yeah, it’s really bleak.

I remember being really shocked the first time I went to New York City (2003 ish) and saw it happening on the subway there. Never really thought it would become a thing that happens here.


Yeah the rise in rough sleeping and street begging has been very, very stark over the last 5 years.

I’ve also noticed a notable increase in the amount of people I see who are visibly angry outside of betting shops. Don’t know if that’s just me mind.


Never heard these - what do they say?

Now you mention it, I think I have. Particularly on the Metropolitan/H&C/Circle lines as you say.
Remember it being more common in the late 90s/early 00s when there were no barriers at the ends of the lines and people would just sit on the tube all day.

As someone who used to manage a betting shop, trust me, it’s not just you.


“Let us out of London!”

Not read the thread.

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Mostly FOBT related or just a rise in the general desperation of punters?

I would say FOBT’s. They changed the industry in a very bad way.


Not only, but they say they’re part of organised crime groups. Essentially with gangs “pimping” out the tissue beggars, or whatever

I have no idea if this is true, but it’s certainly a widely spread belief

I’d like to think they were just trying to disuade people from giving money, but I’ve also been to cities where every beggar you see has a brand new puppy which is surely some kind of racket

It’s been a thing as long as I’ve lived in London, i.e. at least 24 years.

Yeah. Fingers crossed the new regulations will make them less harmful.

Fair enough. I really have no memory of it from when I lived here between 2004-11.

Don’t come in for another 2 years though but I do think it will make better. Downside is people will lose their jobs but if it means less bookies I would say this is a good thing.

Yeah and it will help make things better for existing staff as well by reducing the exacerbated difficulty of managing problem gambling within shops that FOTBs seem to have brought with them. Of course the counter is that it might all be driven online.

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Not just you. As well as the rise in gambling culture generally, especially FOBTs, i think the highstreet bookmakers have to some degree replaced locals pubs and social clubs, especially in largely gentrified areas. When i go in them sometimes i’m surprised how busy they are and how for many people it’s not just a chance to bet but a big part of their day. There used to be one shop every couple of square miles, now i could walk to a dozen.

I’ve stood next to people who’ve ploughed thousands of pounds into the machines. It’s not rare to see someone walk in, bung a couple of hundred quid in each one and walk off punching walls within half an hour. Bans don’t serve a purpose because there’s another shop on the next corner. Shop staff talk about helping problem gamblers but managers are incentivised to maximise profits.

Some of the repetitive behaviours you see are horrendous. People pressing buttons and having to do laps of the shops, muttering to themselves, convinced they’re cursed and their problems will be solved if they win a few hundred quid. Lots of people literally sit there all day betting on virtual events - grown-ups in tears or arguing because Horwich Whites beat Merseyside Blues in a two-minute game of Sensible Soccer.

Frightening really, and one thing i especially notice is how the audience is getting younger very quickly. A bookies used to be the domain of older men reading the Racing Post and trying to win a fortune off 50p, now they’re rammed with groups of young lads who think £100’s loose change.