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Ways in which Norwich has attempted to tackle graffiti menace

PUBLISHED: 06:30 08 June 2011 | UPDATED: 12:10 09 June 2011

The graffiti on the walls through the underpass on Pottergate.

The graffiti on the walls through the underpass on Pottergate.

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2011

On day three of the Evening News' Graffitibusters campaign PETER WALSH looks at different attempts to tackle the issue in the city in the past.

Graffiti is not a new issue and, over the years, many different methods have been employed to try and tackle the problem. They include:

Tolerance zones

Anyone caught carrying out acts of graffiti will be issued with a fixed penalty notice of £80, but there are places where graffiti is tolerated by the authorities, meaning those responsible will not be punished.

Currently, Norwich has one tolerance zone – the underpass at West Pottergate – where graffiti artists are encouraged to express themselves without causing a nuisance.

A spokesman for Norwich City Council said: “The majority of people who use this space are respectful of the rules and to property surrounding the area, and as a cultural city, we want to allow graffiti artists space to be creative. While we want people to be able to express themselves, we will not tolerate abuse of this area, or anywhere else.”

There are other privately-owned areas where graffiti is encouraged, including parts of Anglia Square, where graffiti artists have an agreement with the owners.

Inspector Chris Brooks, of the City Centre Safer Neighbourhood Team, said establishing an area where graffiti was permitted was helpful to both the police and those who want to practice graffiti. He said: “It channels their efforts in a lawful way. I don’t think we will ever eradicate it, so if we can say here’s a place where you can go and do it without being challenged then that’s a good thing.”

Restorative justice

The police have, in the past, used Reparation Orders as part of a way to deal with offenders who have been caught spraying anti-social graffiti in the city.

As part of the scheme the police, working in conjunction with Norfolk County Council’s Youth Offending Team (YOT), youngsters have been punished by being ordered to wipe away graffiti from areas they have defaced. Insp Chris Brooks said: “Restorative Justice brings together victims, offenders and communities to determine a response to a particular problem. The process aims to meet the needs of the victim, repair harm, pay back damage to the community and impact offending behaviour by helping to support the offender turn away from crime.

“This has been used to deal with incidents of graffiti across the county whereby offenders will remove it in a bid to make amends for their behaviour, in turn helping them understand how their actions can impact on the local community.”

Julian Foster, chairman of the City Centre Safer Neighbourhood Action Panel, said it was an approach to the problem that had his “wholehearted support”.

He said: “We don’t want to do something silly like sending them to prison – locking them up isn’t even the beginning of an answer to that kind of problem. It requires restorative justice or something that’s expressed by the public as appropriate and being asked to clean off your graffiti is as good an opportunity as you could get to apply that really effectively.”

Clean-ups

In May last year, the Evening News reported how Norfolk police had formed an alliance with a number of local groups who took to the streets as part of an operation aimed at sprucing up grimy areas of the city. The Rose Lane Car Park and Lion and Castle Yard were both scheduled for extensive clean-up operations by the Safer Neighbourhood Action Panel (SNAP) in conjunction with students from Notre Dame High School (Rose Lane Car Park) as well as staff from Tesco (Lion and Castle Yard) and market traders. As part of the current Graffitibusters campaign, police are looking for people to take part in a series of clean-ups, the first of which takes place on Wednesday, June 15, at Tombland, near the toilets between 6pm and 9pm.

To see why the police need your help to identify and combat the rising number of taggers in the city 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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