POLICE are sending photos of the handiwork of the prolific ‘Soak’ graffiti vandal to all secondary schools in Oxford – in the hope that pupils may be able to shed light on the tagger’s identity.

Officers revealed they plan to seek help from schools when they go back next week in their increasingly desperate hunt for clues.

They hope children will pass on tips as to who is behind the vandalism and give officers new lines of investigation.

The graffiti tagger has daubed the word ‘Soak’ on hundreds of buildings, doors, garages, trees, bridges and bus stops across the city, with new tags appearing almost every day.

The Ice Rink in Oxpens Road has been badly hit in recent weeks, with the tag scrawled in giant letters on a wall.

The tagger also attacked the Oxford Mail office in Osney Mead, West Oxford, last week and this week scrawled on hoardings at the Botley Road bridge over the River Thames the night after they were put up.

Pc Peter Ciechan, of the city centre neighbourhood policing team, said officers had one suspect in mind, and were following up leads on social networking sites, including Facebook.

They were also waiting for forensic information from one crime scene, he said.

There are 13 secondary schools in the city.

Pc Ciechan said: “We’re dropping off photos of the graffiti to all the schools in Oxford to see if the staff recognise that handwriting or any of the students recognise it, to see if we could get some leads that way.

“There are lots of people in one place and they all talk to each other. I’m confident it will work, otherwise I wouldn’t be doing it.

“I would appeal for anyone who knows any information at all to contact us. Anyone who knows who it is – it might be a son, brother or daughter – if they recognise the handwriting, get in touch.

“It’s everywhere. Some people might like it, but I think a lot of people don’t.

“It’s going to cost money to clear off and we want it to stop. He’s using people’s homes and businesses and they don’t want it.”

Pc Ciechan said catching Soak was his team’s top priority.

He added: “There are other crimes going on, which we can’t ignore, but there are a lot of officers working hard to find out who it is. We’re using all the resources available to stop it.

Earlier this month, police arrested gardener David John, of Walton Street, on suspicion of causing criminal damage, but promptly released him when realised they had picked up the wrong man.

Pc Ciechan said: “I don’t think the problem has got any worse.

“People keep highlighting bits of graffiti to us, but at this point we don’t know if they’re fresh or had already been there.

Anyone with information about Soak’s identity should call police on 08458 505505 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.