Graffiti is a plural word for drawings, pattern, scribbles or messages, painted written or carved on walls and other surfaces.
Graffiti blights many of our streets and if they are left untouched their presence often encourages more graffiti, dumping and anti-social behaviour.
Why is it a problem?
- It is unsightly - graffiti is an indication of a neglected neighbourhood and is associated with crime, e.g. anti social behaviour. It also discourages people from visiting the area
- It is illegal - graffiti is vandalism and such a criminal act which can result in the offender being arrested
- It is costly to remove - it costs the UK thousands of pounds to remove
- It attracts other crimes - areas with graffiti can attract other crimes occurring in this area and heightens the fear of crime
- Ashford Borough Council currently removes all graffiti from council-owned property including litter bins, council houses and playgrounds. Any graffiti on private property or parish council owned land is the proprietors' responsibility
Reporting graffiti vandals and graffiti
Graffiti vandalism is a criminal offence and members of the public, or an organisation’s staff, discovering graffiti vandals at work should immediately contact the building’s security staff or the police, using the police non-emergency number.
If you wish to anonymously report a graffiti vandal you can call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
Cases of graffiti on council-owned property should initially be reported using our online form or by telephoning 01233 331111. Racist, homophobic or religious graffiti is by its very nature offensive, and we will remove it as quickly as we can, and normally we aim to respond to such incidents within 48 hours.
Road signs and lamp posts are the responsibility of Kent County Council. Report any cases of graffiti on signs or lamp posts to Kent County Council directly.
Prosecutions for graffiti vandalism are brought under the Criminal Damage Act 1971. In some recent cases fines have been hundreds of pounds. Young offenders may be given a community service order.
How can I prevent graffiti on my property?
You can do the following to help prevent graffiti appearing on your property:
- Put trellis or climbing plants on walls to create an uneven surface. This deters vandals, as graffiti would not be clearly visible
- Try to use paint with muted tones i.e. brick red, brown or grey. Vandals are less likely to deface property with these colours, as graffiti will not stand out
- Use good quality polyurethane gloss paint, as it is the easiest to clean
- Make sure your property has good security measures to prevent access for graffiti vandals i.e. nightlights, locks, fences, and maybe even CCTV
- The quicker graffiti is removed the less likely the vandals are to strike again
How to remove graffiti
- Wipe it out
Most graffiti are made by either a permanent marker pen or paint spray from a can. It is often easier to remove new graffiti before it has had a chance to dry properly. Also, small areas of graffiti are often added to so it is a good idea to remove graffiti as quickly as possible
- Brush it out
A simple solution to graffiti on wood and previously painted surfaces is to paint over the top. However, for best results the graffiti should first be scrubbed or even primed (especially when the graffiti is dark). Anti-graffiti paints are available which make graffiti removal a lot easier
- Scrub it off
Graffiti on non-porous surfaces such as sound masonry paint, tiles, shiny bricks and glossy paints can often be scrubbed off using a strong detergent and lots of elbow grease. It is likely that traces of graffiti will be left, but this may fade a little or can be painted over
Stubborn graffiti can be removed with the help of specific removal products available from hardware stores, but it very much depends on the surface involved. Read the instructions first before using any of these products. You may wish to use a specialist company listed in the local phone directory under graffiti removers or painting contractors
Tools for removing graffiti
The choice of tool chosen for graffiti removal will depend on the composition of the graffiti, whether oil or water based and the type of surface, either porous or non-porous. (Always follow makers’ instructions for use).
- Cloths, scouring powder and scourers
These tools are usually sufficient against water-based felt tip pens on non-porous surfaces
- White spirit
This may be effective against spirit-based felt tip pens on many surfaces
- Wire brushes
These can be used to remove graffiti from porous surfaces. They are particularly effective when used with paint remover and graffiti remover
- Paint remover and graffiti remover
These may be effective against aerosol paint on the majority of non-porous and porous surfaces
- Paint, dyes and coatings
It is often easier and more cost effective to simply paint over or dye surfaces affected by graffiti, or by applying anti-graffiti coating
- Creosote and wood dye
These products are useful if graffiti are embedded into the grain of wood
Egg shell and oil based paints create a smoother surface and it will be easier to clear graffiti from them in the future, as opposed to an ordinary masonry paint. It is worth keeping a small amount of paint in store so that you can quickly paint over any graffiti that appears