Debbie takes on the taggers

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Tackling the taggers is at the heart of Debbie Heath’s new role as a community safety officer.

Debbie, who joins Canterbury City Council’s Community Safety Unit from Westminster City Council, has been tasked with grappling with graffiti and is developing a programme of potential projects to reduce the amount of spray paint the council needs to clean off.

She said: “There are a whole host of ways we can work with property owners to design out graffiti hotspots, including the use of murals, anti-graffiti paint and spiky plants, as well as installing green walls made up of climbing and trailing plants to put off the vandals.

“We can also give property owners advice on preventing access to high points on buildings where it is difficult to remove tags and encourage developers to use patterned vinyls on hoardings to make them less of a blank canvas.”

Part of Debbie’s job will be to work with the police to encourage teachers and youth workers to report the tags they see on school books as well as creating an education programme to explain to youngsters the costs of tagging to the wider community.

Debbie’s work is on top of the extensive efforts already being made by the council to get on top of the problem, including:

  • The offer of a £500 reward for information leading to the conviction of graffiti vandals
  • An enforcement officer dedicated to cleaning off easy-to-reach tags and reporting those that need expertise to tackle. He has cleaned hundreds of tags since April and is liaising with the utilities, Network Rail and Kent County Council to persuade them to do the same
  • Extra cleaning by the council’s contractor Serco, including a number of blitzes
  • Issuing 11 Community Protection Warnings since April to residents and businesses who do not take their responsibility to remove graffiti seriously, despite the offer of support. Eight of those notices have been effective with the remaining three being turned into Community Protection Notices which can result in court action or a £100 fine
  • Improved online reporting of graffiti with more than 500 tags highlighted by people visiting canterbury.gov.uk/graffiti
  • Helping to establish a graffiti partnership which shares intelligence among the council, the police, the Canterbury Connected Business Improvement District (BID) and wide range of other organisations
  • Using government money to supply the BID with graffiti wipes

Chairman of the council’s Community Committee, Cllr Neil Baker, said: “The blame for the blight of graffiti lies with the taggers who are forcing us to use taxpayers’ money to clear up the result of these selfish acts of criminal damage.

“We would much rather be using those funds on the frontline services residents need and deserve, and are trying everything we can to solve this problem, including encouraging Kent County Council and other property owners to remove graffiti.

“We hope our innovative approach will start to bring real results in the very near future.”

Graffiti can be reported quickly and easily online.

If you have any information that could lead to the arrest and conviction of a tagger, you could be in line for a £500 reward. Email graffiti@canterbury.gov.uk in the strictest confidence.