In Brief

GCHQ to recruit 'hipster spies' via graffiti campaign

Intelligence agency has been spraying graffiti around trendy east London to attract budding spooks

The intelligence services are experimenting with an unlikely new way to recruit new spies: a graffiti advertising campaign that has appeared in fashionable east London.

The ads read: "GCH-WHO? Technical opportunities" and give a web address, GCHQ-careers.co.uk. The ads are 'sprayed' onto pavements using a stencil.

The Hackney Gazette says they have been spotted all around the "Tech City" area of Shoreditch and GCHQ has confirmed they are real. The paper says the campaign was created by the HR consultancy Penna on behalf of the intelligence organisation.

The technique, which is known as 'clean graffiti', involves using a stencil and a pressurised hose to wash away dirt in the shape of a message. The lettering then appears on the pavement as a lighter shade of concrete. In time, as new dirt is laid down, it fades.

The campaign has caught the public's imagination because Shoreditch has a reputation as a haunt for 'hipsters'. "They are known for their bushy beards, tight trousers and aversion to socks, but it seems that the hipsters of east London have another attribute: the ability to be spies," says The Times.

But US-based Fortune magazine notes that east London is also home to a "high concentration of tech talent" with the neighbourhood around Old Street dubbed 'Silicon Roundabout'.

GCHQ told Fortune: "We look at areas which are likely to contain a high proportion of people we would like to recruit, in this case people with technical skills and experience."

The adverts were first noticed last week before David Cameron announced that he is recruiting 1,900 new spies across the three UK intelligence agencies in the wake of Friday's Paris terror attacks.

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