Major improvements to reporting graffiti

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A new online graffiti reporting system that allows people to attach photographs, use their smartphones to give an exact location or drop a pin on a map has been launched by the city council.

It now takes just a couple of minutes to let the council – and organisations such as utility companies and Network Rail – know about graffiti that requires cleaning off their land.

This latest weapon in the fight against graffiti comes as the council reveals its cleaning contractor, Serco, carried out around 500 major cleans in 2018. Examples of these include graffiti at a height that requires a cherry picker, on difficult surfaces such as walls, or large areas of tags.

And this has been supplemented by the efforts of the council’s new, dedicated graffiti enforcement officer, who has cleaned off nearly 200 tags in the last three months alone.

As well as on-the-spot cleaning, the graffiti enforcement officer is working on a number of other key projects:

  • Gathering and co-ordinating intelligence to help the police prosecute offenders
  • Pushing owners to give their permission to the council to clean graffiti off their property, which can otherwise slow down removal
  • Working with BT, KCC, Network Rail and others to ensure they act responsibly and clean graffiti off of their property or pay the city council to do it for them
  • Helping victims of repeated graffiti attacks to find ways of preventing them and reducing their cleaning costs
  • Using the council’s powers to issue Community Protection Notices as a last resort to force non-compliant property owners to clean up graffiti or to do it for them and claim back the costs

Chairman of the council’s Community Committee, Cllr Neil Baker, said: “Daubing paint on property without the owner’s permission is a wanton act of vandalism and is a criminal offence. We’re making it much easier to report the problem, particularly to organisations that can be hard to get in touch with.

“Graffiti is not a victimless crime. These scrawls are costing the council taxpayer money to remove and causing distress to innocent residents and business owners who have been targeted.

“Working closely with others is also starting to pay real dividends. We have a close relationship with Kent Police and the county council, and recently worked with KCC to clean graffiti off their road signs and other property that belongs to them. We hope to use this example of partnership working to persuade other organisations to follow the same course.”

The city council’s other enforcement officers will continue to carry out graffiti audits to identify hotspots, gather evidence and carry out on-the-spot cleans when they can.

The council aims to remove offensive graffiti as quickly as possible. There is no charge for removing graffiti from a property for the first two hours’ work or a maximum area of five square metres up to two times in a year for a commercial/non domestic property and four times for a domestic property, with a signed waiver from the owner.

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