Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

London Spends [Pounds Sterling]8m a Year on a Losing Battle with Graffiti; Demand for Tougher Penalties as 'Tagging' Spreads across Capital

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

London Spends [Pounds Sterling]8m a Year on a Losing Battle with Graffiti; Demand for Tougher Penalties as 'Tagging' Spreads across Capital

Article excerpt

Byline: RICHARD ALLEN

LONDONERS spend [pound]8 million a year fighting a never-ending war on graffiti, a survey has revealed.

Transport chiefs and councils spend the money on cleaning up the graffiti and fitting security measures to deter vandals.

Liberal Democrat MPs, who carried out the research, are urging the Government to act by raising fines and forcing convicted offenders to clean up after themselves.

They are also calling for a clampdown on school truancy and an extension of voluntary schemes in parts of London that ban the sale of spraypaint to under-16s.

London Underground is the biggest victim, spending [pound]2.5 million a year on removing and preventing graffiti. It has given up removing track-side graffiti altogether - unless it is offensive - because of the prohibitive cost.

Graffiti in London has more than doubled in the past six years, and some estimates suggest it is five times worse than it was in 1995.

Londoners now put the problem as third only to crime and traffic as the factor most damaging to their quality of life.

Chairman of the GLA's Graffiti Investigative Committee, Andrew Pelling, said: "Graffiti is not just a problem in terms of cleanup costs but there are also considerable costs in terms of economic development and general quality of life.

"Businesses might decide not to invest in an area, and estate agents estimate that house prices can drop by as much as 10 per cent. Graffiti makes people feel an area is neglected and affected by crime."

In Lewisham, the incidence of painted graffiti has dropped as a result of restrictions on the sale of spraypaint to under-16s. However, "etching" on shop windows has increased dramatically. Other areas, such as Wandsworth, have reported that vandals have simply stolen the products if they cannot buy them.

Five years ago London Underground attempted a rapid-removal trial for a three-month period on the District line - one of the worst-affected routes.

Security development manager Kevin Clack said: "It cost us almost [pound]250,000 to keep clean 6,000 square metres of infrastructure, which is just five per cent of the network. …

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