Graffiti service wins £250,000 boost

A popular council service which promises rapid removal of offensive graffiti has won a £250,000 cash boost after councillors agreed to step up their assault on the anti-scoial activities of so-called 'taggers'. The extra money will bring spending on measures to combat graffiti to more than £600,000 in the current year.

The council aims to remove racist and sexist graffiti from buildings within 24 hours of being notified. For other outbreaks the target is 48 hours.The service is free and can be called to clear graffiti from any privately-owned building - providing the owner consents.

Under new contract arrangements now being drawn up specialist cleaning firms will be assigned to cover different parts of the borough.

Two new graffiti enforcement staff will be recruited on one-year contracts to spearhead the new team. They will work closely with the police and other agencies and develop new educational initiatives with schools and youth clubs. Officials will also step up intelligence activity - sharing information with other public bodies and mounting covert surveillance operations in vulnerable locations.

People who provide information leading to a successful prosecution can qualify for a reward of up to £1,000.

Housing chairman Carol Humphries said the new investment was continued evidence of the council's determination to stay on top of the problem:

"The extra money will help us to maintain our assault against this anti-social behaviour. This is a three-pronged blitz on a form of vandalism which if allowed to grow unchecked would send out a desperate message of decay and neglect. This in turn can lead to a climate where crime flourishes because people think nobody cares about their neighbourhood.

"We will be using the money to do more on prevention, more on catching offenders in the act and more on ensuring our cleaning firms can keep up with the demand for the service. It is lot of money but this is the price of civic pride. It's easy for any council to say they care for the quality of life in the borough - the hard part is turning fine words into action. What our investment shows is that we care. It is when authorities stop caring that apathy and decline can set in amongst the wider community."

The number to call for the council's 24 hour graffiti removal service is 020 8871 7049.

The team's performance will be reviewed throughout the year by councillors to ensure it meets its service targets.

If you have any comments on the service or graffiti in general please contact the editor or post it on the forum.