join forces in anti-graffiti task force
is a growing problem in the residential areas of Putney as seen
on the Forum
and this problem is found in every London borough. Wandsworth
Council has persuaded 11 local authorities in south west London
to join forces to crack down on graffiti vandals.
Tuesday, Wandsworth hosted the inaugural meeting of the new anti-graffiti
umbrella group South West Area Against Graffiti (SWAAG). The meeting
was also attended by representatives of the Metropolitan Police
and the British Transport Police.
11 councils have responded to a call from Wandsworth to join together
and form a task force dedicated to stamping out graffiti across
south west London. The creation of the group was one of the priorities
Wandsworth set itself after hosting the country's first ever national
conference on graffiti in April last year.
aims of SWAAG are:
To establish a co-operative approach to catching graffiti offenders
in south west London.
To pursue changes in legislation to enable the effective and swift
prosecution of graffiti vandals
To give councils the powers to enforce graffiti removal from privately
owned land and/or allow them to recharge the cost of graffiti
removal from property owned by private companies like Railtrack
or London Underground.
To seek voluntary/statutory changes in the rules governing the
sale of paint sprays and other graffiti materials.
To work with youth groups, schools, residents associations and
other organisations to establish preventative measures to combat
councils which have joined SWAAG alongside Wandsworth are Croydon,
Hammersmith & Fulham, Hounslow, Kensington & Chelsea,
Kingston, Lambeth, Merton, Richmond, Sutton and Westminster.
Tuesday's meeting the group resolved to carry out a range of immediate
measures to tackle graffiti. These include:
Launching a joint drive against the sale of graffiti products
Exchanging details of the worst offenders' tags and assisting
each other in joint operations to catch and prosecute offenders;
Lobbying for more effective reparation from offenders
Arranging seminars and workshops for other public agencies and
officials to raise the profile of the problems caused by graffiti.
Those invited would include people like magistrates.
has consistently advocated a zero-tolerance to graffiti and spends
more than three times the London average on removing graffiti.
The council pledges to remove racist or obscene graffiti within
24 hours and other forms within three working days. Wandsworth
spends £625,000 a year on graffiti removal, compared to
the London local authority average of £200,000.
Pelling, who chairs of the Greater London Assembly's graffiti
investigative committee, said last month: 'The cost to London's
councils of cleaning up graffiti runs into millions. Wandsworth
is far and away the biggest spender in this area."
his keynote speech at SWAAG's first meeting, Wandsworth's cabinet
member for housing Cllr Martin Johnson said: "It is our opinion
that an area with an abundance of graffiti gives the impression
of an area that is neglected, rundown and attracts crime.
in Wandsworth we pride ourselves in the appearance of our roads,
estates and open spaces and try to keep them free of graffiti
as far as the law allows. This has been achieved by our "free"
graffiti removal service that in the end costs some £625,000
per annum. I would prefer that this money was spent on more productive
measures. We have recognised that Wandsworth is not an island
when it comes to graffiti and if we are to defeat the vandals
then we need others to co-operate.
recognise that merely removing graffiti is not the complete answer
because the vandals keep coming back. We need to join forces to
catch these vandals and have them dealt with effectively. If that
means meaningful reparation or punishment, training and education
then so be it.
need changes in the legislation, but we must also join together
in trying to stop these vandals getting their hands on the supplies
they use to damage the environment."
residents can report graffiti on 020 8871 7049 or by email to
concerns on the Forum