A blitz to tackle the blight of anti-social graffiti throughout the district will be launched by Newark and Sherwood District Council. Initially, a designated cleaning team will have a special focus on clearing away unsightly scrawls throughout the district in a concerted three-month campaign.
And, where possible, deviant ‘artwork’ will be removed from private property free of charge for the next two years.
The worst cases of graffiti, which are of a sexual nature, racist or otherwise offensive, will be removed within 36 hours of being reported where possible, while other cases will be dealt within a 14-day timeframe.
The £10,000 programme of action, agreed by the council’s leisure and environment committee, is a response to the recent increase in the spray-can menace and builds on the work carried out, and the issues raised, by the authority’s cleaner, safer and greener initiative.
Street cleaning and public protection teams will be working across the district to deal with problem spots over the coming months. Members of the public are being encouraged to actively report new cases of graffiti so that they can be dealt with swiftly.
Graffiti is illegal as it amounts to criminal damage and can create negative impressions of an area, attracting anti-social behaviour and crime.
The council’s public protection team, which was established earlier this year, will be the first point of contact when dealing with reports of graffiti. They will be undertaking an extensive exercise to log information about grot-spots around the district to include ‘tags’ used, the property owner and approximate cost of removal. Officers will also record the approximate time the offence took place and ascertain whether there is any CCTV footage of the incident.
Once this information has been gathered the graffiti cleaning team will move in to remove it as soon as practically possible. Although the council does not have a duty to remove graffiti from private properties, it will continue to work with owners to offer advice and removal services. Clearance from private and commercially owned domestic premises is subject to owner approval.
Enforcement action will be taken through issuing a fixed penalty notice against offenders or alternatively, they may be actively pursued either in the courts or through the system of restorative justice which was recently successfully used in dealing with four teenage culprits. This is where offenders clear up their own mess without any further punishment.
Meanwhile the council’s on-going work with its partners on diversionary art projects and workshops, specifically on murals and public art which make a positive contribution to the appearance of a community and discourage ‘tagging’, will also be continued.