Most Londoners and many visitors to the capital have witnessed an apparently impromptu musical performance on the Tube.
Tourists are often charmed by the show, while locals desperately try to avoid eye contact with the musicians because it’s the third time they’ve heard them in a week.
But under no circumstances should you give money to anyone playing music on the Underground, Transport for London and the British Transport Police have said.
While busking inside Tube stations is an important part of the capital’s culture, doing so on trains themselves is illegal.
And not only is busking on the Underground against the law, but there have been reports of thefts suspected to be connected with the performances.
Ten people were arrested in November following a crackdown on the practice by police officers and TfL, dubbed Operation Singer.
Even drivers have taken action against the amateur musicians, with some forced to make announcements warning passengers of their presence and urging them to keep an eye on their belongings.
Siwan Hayward, TfL’s head of transport policing, told Metro.co.uk: ‘We actively support music on the transport network through our licensed busking scheme, where musicians can apply and gain a platform to entertain customers at our stations.
‘But busking on a Tube train can make customers feel uncomfortable, is sometimes linked to other crime and is a breach of the railway bylaws.
‘We are working closely with the British Transport Police to crack down on this inconsiderate behaviour and encourage any passengers who witness this type of busking to report it by texting the BTP on 61016.’
A spokesman for TfL said reports suggest the practice has links to organised crime and pick-pocketing gangs.
In a statement, British Transport Police said: ‘We work closely with Transport for London to ensure passengers and staff feel comfortable when they travel.
‘Operation Singer was a joint operation with TfL to target illegal busking. The operation resulted in 10 arrests on the network over a week (in November).
‘Busking on the Tube is illegal and we would encourage any passengers who witness illegal busking to report it by texting the BTP on 61016.’
TfL runs a busking scheme encouraging musicians to audition for a busking licence, which grants them permission to perform at Underground stations.
Stars such as Ed Sheeran, Jessie J, Bob Geldof and Katherine Jenkins have all previously performed on the Tube’s stage.
For more information, visit buskinlondon.com
Why you shouldn't give money to beggars
Charities have regularly encouraged members of the public not to give money to beggars on the street.
Instead, people can help by giving food or water rather than cash, by donating to a homeless charity, or simply having a conversation with homeless people.
A spokesman for homeless charity Thames Reach said: ‘The evidence is indisputable that the overwhelming majority of people begging on the streets of England spend their begging money on crack cocaine and heroin.
‘Giving to people who beg is not a benign act. It can have fatal consequences.
‘The link is between begging and drug and alcohol misuse, not homelessness and begging, nor even homelessness and drugs.
‘There are plenty of ways of ensuring that your money is spent on funding real solutions to homelessness and drug and alcohol addiction. Help Thames Reach to end street homelessness in London.’
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