Calls for graffiti action as only one in 680 offences punished

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POLICE and council officials have been urged to do more to bring graffiti vandals to justice after latest figures show enforcement action was only taken over one in every 680 offences in Hull.

Community wardens removed 23,753 pieces of graffiti in the city between April last year and January, a period when only 35 penalties were enforced.

Statistics compiled by the city council show 24 fixed penalty notices were issued and 13 formal warnings were made, while there were just four prosecutions, two formal cautions, and two prosecutions were pending.

A number of agencies are working together to tackle the problem, and two years ago launched the website www.hullagainstgraffiti.co.uk to encourage residents to report graffiti and help identify offenders.

A “Taggy” database of distinctive markings has also been launched, and has captured 14,000 tags over the last year. This is particularly useful in identifying prolific offenders.

A spokesman for Humberside Police said: “Graffiti is a city-wide problem that has a negative effect on communities and often makes the areas look run down. We are continuing to work with Hull City Council, Community Wardens, Community Payback and other agencies to clear graffiti and bring offenders to justice.

“Through the Hull Against Graffiti website Humberside Police are able to link offenders to all their tags regardless if they are committed in the city centre or on the outskirts of the city, therefore building stronger cases against those responsible which in turn can help increase prosecutions.

“However, to bring those responsible to account Humberside Police need the public’s help and would urge them to report those people responsible for local graffiti on the non-emergency number 101, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

“With the public’s help prolific offenders can be brought to justice for all their tags.”

By far the worst-hit ward was Orchard Park, where 3,548 pieces were removed, followed by Myton (2692), and Sutton (2,142). The ward with the cleanest record was Kings Park, where only 26 marks were removed.

The council carries out quarterly surveys to check the prevalence of graffiti, and in it latest survey graffiti was found in 62 of the 214 streets looked at.

The council has also issued more than 90 “graffiti kits” to businesses and residents’ groups to assist with the clearance of affected areas. Graffiti is supposed to be removed within 48 hours of being reported.

Justine Mortimer, the council’s neighbourhood nuisance manager, said: “We continue to take graffiti seriously and we work closely with our partners and community to identify offenders and take the appropriate enforcement action. Incidents of graffiti have decreased over the past few years and we encourage anyone that can help identify those responsible for this crime to call 01482 300 300, or 101, or visit www.hullagainstgraffiti.co.uk.”

But Coun Mike Ross, deputy leader of the opposition Liberal Democrats at the council, said more needed to be done.

“Many residents I speak to want to see action taken against anyone who is causing blight in the local neighbourhood,” he said.

“What they want is the graffiti not to happen at all, but if it does for it to be removed quickly and action taken and more needs to be done on this.”

Police are meanwhile continuing to appeal for information over a graffiti attack on a newsagents in Cottingham last week.

The letters “OUC” were prayed on the shutters of the shop in Beck Bank, a tag that has also appeared on road signs in the area.

Cottingham neighbourhood beat manager, Pc Steve Morley, said: “Not only is this type of criminal damage anti-social, the content of the graffiti is also regarded as offensive.”