ISSUE: Graffiti   


Councils join forces in anti-graffiti task force

Graffiti 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.

On 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.

The 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.

The 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 graffiti vandalism.

The councils which have joined SWAAG alongside Wandsworth are Croydon, Hammersmith & Fulham, Hounslow, Kensington & Chelsea, Kingston, Lambeth, Merton, Richmond, Sutton and Westminster.

At 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.

Wandsworth 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.

Andrew 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."

In 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.

"Here 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.

"We 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.

"We 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."

Wandsworth residents can report graffiti on 020 8871 7049 or by email to

Residents concerns on the Forum



Do you have a  view on the problem of graffiti? Use our pages to express yourself! E-mail to editor@
or contribute to our forum

This site is an open platform for all points of view on local issues - we hope to have an article on the case for closure soon.

The articles on this site are contributed by local people.

If you want to contact your local councillor on this issue and are not sure how - click here