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People of Norwich told together we can win war on graffiti

PUBLISHED: 18:00 06 June 2011 | UPDATED: 11:01 08 June 2011

The new anti-graffiti campaign launch in Norwich City Centre. 
PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

The new anti-graffiti campaign launch in Norwich City Centre. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

© ARCHANT NORFOLK 2011

Graffiti is not a new problem. Norwich, like many other cities and towns across the country, has suffered from the effects for years.

But it is a growing problem which is threatening to spoil all that is good about this fine city of ours for visitors and locals alike.

As highlighted by an Evening News survey earlier this year, graffiti not only makes places appear unpleasant, but also proves costly to remove.

Council officials say more than £1m is spent every year on cleaning the streets of Norwich, which includes tackling graffiti, with City Hall receiving up to 500 reports a year.

The Evening News, working together with Norfolk police, the Norwich City Centre Partnership and with the support of Norwich City Council, wants to eradicate the problem once and for all – but the war on graffiti cannot be won alone.

We need your help, and that is why the Evening News has launched Graffitibusters to try to get others to come forward and offer their help and support – be it financial or in terms of time – to beat the city’s graffiti problem.

The City Centre Safer Neighbourhood Action Panel (Snap) has adopted graffiti as one of its current priorities and will be spending the next few months dedicating resources to try to catch those responsible.

Insp Chris Brooks, from the City Centre Safer Neighbourhood Team (SNT), said: “Graffiti is an eyesore within the community and is costly to remove.

“This type of behaviour will not be tolerated and we will be working closely with our partner agencies to identify graffiti hotspots and target offenders responsible and also explore ways of removing offensive graffiti from buildings and walls.”

But officers are not just looking to catch those responsible – they want to clean up the areas that have become eyesores.

Police Community Support Officers from the team have spent the past few weeks compiling a definitive list of where the graffiti is and recording the tags for evidence.

The worst affected areas of the city will now be in line for a clean up over the coming weeks as the police and their partner agencies look to recruit an army of volunteers to help remove the graffiti.

Julian Foster, chairman of the City Centre Snap, said it was vital people did not just see the problem as something for the police to deal with.

He said: “This was a priority highlighted by the public and it’s the public who observed that the graffiti has reached an extreme which is beyond their level of tolerance and, therefore, it was adopted as a priority.

“And we want the public to participate in trying to prosecute those that are doing the tags. They are just a public nuisance and causing huge concern and anger among the public not least because it’s a cost to them to clean it all up.”

The Norwich City Centre Partnership (CCP) has helped kick-start the clean up campaign by donating £500 so paint and other equipment, like overalls, can be purchased by clean up teams.

Peter Mitchell, managing director of Jarrolds and a member of the CCP, said he was delighted to be able to try to get the scheme up and running by putting some money into the pot.

He said: “We’ve got a growing problem in the city with graffiti.

“I’m delighted the City Centre Partnership is able to put a little bit of money to start the fundraising to get the paint which can be put to good use.”

Volunteers are needed to take part in the first clean up date which takes place on Wednesday, June 15 at Tombland, near the toilets.

Protective clothing will be provided but volunteers for the event, which takes place between 6pm and 9pm, are advised to wear old clothes.

Insp Chris Brooks said it will be followed by further events on June 22 and 26 and July 3 with venues and exact times yet to be decided.

Julie Westmacott, city council cabinet member for neighbourhoods and environment, gave her backing to the campaign. She said graffiti was an issue she would be looking to help tackle in her new role at City Hall.

She said: “I totally endorse the campaign, I think it’s really important to do as much as we can to make sure we retain the city as a beautiful place to live and work in.

“I would fully support anything you can do to highlight the issues and the opportunities for people to get involved and make a difference. As part of my new portfolio I will be working with officers to look at what the options are as far as how we can tackle the problem as a city council but it’s important we work in partnership because we can’t solve it in isolation.”

As reported in March it took less than an hour for an Evening News investigation to find 35 locations spoiled by graffiti around the city. Anyone caught committing an offence is given an £80 on-the-spot fine or arrested and given a criminal record.

The city council removes graffiti from council property and public areas but cannot clean up privately-owned buildings.

Offensive or racist graffiti will be dealt with within 24 hours of being reported – usually on the same day.

All other graffiti is removed within 14 days of the report being received.

Anyone who sees graffiti should report it to the council by calling 0344 980 3333 or Norfolk police on 0845 456 4567.

To see how the council deals with graffiti which is reported to them see tomorrow’s Evening News.

Have you got a story for the Graffitibusters campaign? Call reporter Peter Walsh on 01603 772436 or email peter.walsh@archant.co.uk

Have you got a picture of graffiti? Email picdesk@archant.co.uk

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