There was quite an outcry last year when Building revealed Jarvis' claim that sabotage may have been to blame for the Potters Bar rail tragedy
Who, commentators gasped, would do such a thing? Well, a subsequent Health and Safety Executive investigation remains ambivalent on the subject (see news). But Jarvis' initial response did expose five other instances of sabotage in only six years – including the removal of locks and stretcher bolts from points. And as our report in this week's issue shows, sabotage is an increasing menace to contractors everywhere.

It is important to distinguish between sabotage and vandalism. The social malaise of pointless destruction has been around for centuries, and yobs on site have so many meaty tools at their disposal that it's no surprise that some can't resist indulging in their nasty little pastime. Sabotage, though, is altogether more sinister in its premeditation and the threat it poses to safety. Theories about saboteurs' behaviour range from sociopathy to gangsterism. One explanation is that the wreckers are simply trying to create extra work for themselves – a savage extension of the Keynesian practice of digging a hole so that someone else can fill it. One thing's for sure: saboteurs are costing contractors thousands.

If it's hard to get inside the mind of a saboteur, it will be even harder to stop them. Posters threatening instant dismissal may deter one or two, and Carillion's policy of hiring more security guards, installing CCTV and restricting access to sensitive parts of a site should limit the damage. But none of these steps addresses the underlying cause of sabotage, which is likely to be the alienation that operatives feel from their environment, their work and their employer. Might this have something to do with their itinerant lifestyle, the lack (through endless subcontracting) of a visible, nurturing boss – plus horrible food and atrocious loos? So, perhaps victims of sabotage ought to be monitoring their own behaviour. As a rule, if you treat people like animals, they behave like them – as the football world found to its cost 20 years ago.

Art, incorporated
Perusing this year's Turner Prize shortlist, you're unlikely to jump to the conclusion that what architects need right now is more collaboration with artists. How could buildings possibly be enriched by a gun-toting transvestite potter? Or a sculptor who specialises chocolate, oranges and a 34-tonne ice cube? Their oeuvre may be art when it's in an art gallery; outside, it's a danger to public health. Other artists, though, are keen to see their work not just adorn a building, but become integral to its structure. Architects and their clients are also enthusiastic. Canary Wharf has so far commissioned about 40 artworks, including an iridescent glass wall by Alexander Beleschenko. Such collaborations can give the artist a public platform, as well as complementing the architecture. Anything to avoid a reception area dominated by a vast study of the chairman in oils – although we could give the bisected sheep a miss.