What is graffiti?
The term graffiti refers to drawings, patterns, scribbles, messages or tags that are painted, written or carved on walls and other surfaces. In recent times the craze has been for ‘tagging’, the stylised scrawling of names. To those whose property is defaced by graffiti the markings are a form of vandalism that is unwelcome, distressing and difficult to remove.
Where can graffiti be found and whom does it affect?
The problem of graffiti occurs in many different areas, on blank walls, street furniture, telephone boxes, bus shelters, monuments and railway land. The ENCAMS Local Environmental Quality Survey of England indicates that the country as a whole does not view graffiti as a major problem. This is because incidences are not widespread and are focused in relatively few hotspots, where the problem is intense. However, where graffiti does occur it is highly visible and has a great impact on the public in their perception of the area. The survey shows that graffiti is often in prominent locations, having an effect on the perceptions of passersby. This is highlighted in a recent survey in which 77% of Londoners listed graffiti as a quality of life concern.
What is the cost of graffiti?
The estimated cost of graffiti to the country is over £1 billion a year. The London Underground alone believes it costs up to £10m a year to replace all the glass that is etched with graffiti in addition to the £2.5m annually needed to clear up other types of graffiti.
Whose responsibility is it to clean up graffiti?
The local authority is responsible for removing graffiti from public buildings, monuments or street furniture such as benches. Other items such as telephone boxes, bus shelters and electricity boxes are the responsibility of the company that has placed them there, for example British Telecom, Adshel or utility companies. The public should check with their local authority before removing graffiti from items that do not come under local authority jurisdiction. Although private buildings are not the local authority’s responsibility we will often assist with removal.
What is the law on graffiti?
Those caught causing graffiti can be prosecuted under the Criminal Damage Act 1971. If the damage caused is less than £5,000 the maximum fine is £5,000 although fines are generally much less than this. Young offenders may be given a community service order. Prosecutions for graffiti are infrequent.
What action can local authorities take?
Local authorities are responsible for cleaning up graffiti as quickly as possible. Some councils have rapid response units that will send someone out to clean up graffiti as soon as it is reported. Many cleansing units have the remit of cleaning up graffiti when they are cleansing the streets. Protective coatings can be used in locations that are vulnerable to graffiti. Most authorities with a graffiti problem adopt a combination of deterrent, protective and removal methods. Due to the fact that neither deterrent nor protective materials or devices will entirely defeat determined graffitists, the main remedy is prompt removal.
What can individuals do?
Initially individuals should report graffiti to their local authority. The council or its contractor will remove graffiti from public buildings, street furniture or monuments. It should also be able to help where graffiti has appeared on private buildings.
If you have seen an incident of graffiti please contact the Street Scene Hotline on 01536 464242 and we will take the details and aim to get it removed. We have a dedicated graffiti removal warden who specialises in removing graffiti and preventing the incidences occurring.
Further Information & Contacts
Criminal Damage Act 1971
This legislation is published by the Stationery Office (publications centre 0870 600 5522) and should also be
Elizabeth House, The Pier, Wigan, WN3 4EX
Tel: 01942 612 621 Fax: 01942 824 778
The Home Office
Customer Information Service, 7th Floor, 50 Queen
Anne’s Gate, London, SW1H 9AT
Tel: 020 7273 3476
Department for Communities and Local Government
Eland House, Bressenden Place, London, SW1E 5DU
Railtrack House, DP06-29, Euston Square,
London, NW1 2EE
Tel: 020 7557 8499
This information is taken from the Encams website