Graffiti crackdown in Brighton shows nature of ‘massive challenge’

A team of five cleaned more than 200 examples of graffiti from properties in a Brighton shopping street in just three months.

Graffiti in London Road Brighton – Picture courtesy of the Brighton Society

But during the trial “zero tolerance” crackdown in London Road, Brighton, the team found graffiti vandals were quick to respray newly cleaned surfaces.

The crackdown – from the start of November – involved a small team of staff from Brighton and Hove City Council’s rubbish, recycling and street cleaning service Cityclean.

They spent the first six weeks of the trial cleaning every surface defaced with graffiti and dealing with any new graffiti on any property – public or private – within 24 hours.

In the weeks after the initial clean up, the team – which would usually deal only with public property unless the graffiti was offensive – monitored the area.

Cityclean boss Rachel Chasseaud said: “It took all our staff and all our resources to do that. Unfortunately, the graffiti did come back very quickly. For that to be able to work, you’d have to keep at it.”

Mrs Chasseaud spoke about the trial at a council housing management panel meeting this week.

She said that when she started at Cityclean there was just one worker deployed to remove graffiti, with a second person taken on in late 2019.

The council budgeted an extra £100,000 to tackle graffiti just over a year ago – and last autumn it recruited two extra staff and a team leader.

Mrs Chassaeud said that graffiti was a “massive challenge” with staff constantly tackling the problem across Brighton and Hove.

The council has previously said that it would fine businesses that did not remove graffiti from private property including the “street furniture” owned by telecom companies.

As a result, it said, private organisations would be more likely to take swift action to clean up graffiti on their property.

Critics have said that the policy added insult to injury by threatening to punish the victims of crime.

The Brighton Society documented the astonishing extent of the problem in a post on the group’s website four years ago. Click here to see what they found.

  1. Hove Guy Reply

    What about all the security cameras around the town centre? Are they never working or are they never checked? Surely some of these criminals could be identified from them? Why is the council allowing this city to become a bigger dump every day?

  2. Derek Reply

    you have to identify the taggers to prosecute them and CCTV is not good enough for that. It needs a police presence to deter and catch the taggers but they are not interested.

    • Phoebe Barrera Reply

      Better quality 4K CCTV is available now that would provide much clearer images, and remember that there are recognition systems that can identify people, but the usual “civil rights” groups were not happy.

      The current CCTV could indicate an offence taking place, but you need a physical police officer to make the arrest.

  3. Ian Stronge Reply

    Council can appoint its own ‘officers’ to catch and fine taggers 24/7, supported by CCTV staff to direct them to where #taggers are operating… but I guess that would be another department with another budget…

  4. Louise H Reply

    If it takes 10 more people to get rid of graffiti then this is what should happen. As for punishing the victims of crime if a business owner can’t afford to get someone else to clean up their premises they can always save money and do it themselves. However, keeping your business free of graffiti should be a requirement of being able to run one in the City. Keeping the City graffiti free and clean of vagrants should be a basic council requirement as it is in other cities. Also it has been proven that iof you remove it quickly and promptly it is less likely to come back as even the paint costs money and the people that do this are normally losers with limited vandalism budgets.

  5. Christopher Hawtree Reply

    In 2015 I helped with preparing the large wall for murals along the alleyway between George Street and Haddington Street in Hove. At the time I asked about vandalism, and was told that people would “respect” it.

    And what happened? It is now covered in daubs by the socially inadequate.

    After such an enjoyable, collaborative time, it is so horrible to view this destruction, so much so that I avoid the alleyway which is redolent not of civic hope but of the futility of existence.

    As for Haddington Street, it too is the pits, including that huge proclamtion of REAMS LIKES CHINESE GIRLS, and more.

    We can only despair.

  6. sd Reply

    Maybe there needs to be a social media campaign (along with painting over the crappy tags); young people rating the graffiti that is out there. If a prolific tagger is ridiculed by their peers, they might not feel so ‘cool’ doing it.

    I appreciate artful pieces, but tags, slogans and pieces that just look rubbish need to be ridiculed by the street art community.

    Taggers won’t be bothered by anything people outside of that community have to say.

    • Louise H Reply

      They are social misfits that would probably like the attention and no doubt know they are losers already.

  7. BAHTAG Reply

    Very strange – not a word from Cityclean about applying anti-grafitti coatings to the cleaned surfaces?

    Too expensive? Or too difficult to get the property owners to agree to easy-clean coatings being applied, at no cost to them, by the taxpayers of Brighton & Hove?

    Yet the majority of telephone cabinets and similar utilities items have carried for years a rough coating which seems to usually deter defacement!

    Yet again, and with great sadness, we see Council officers wringing their hands and saying, in terms: ‘Sorry, it’s a really difficult problem!’

    As ever it’s solutions that are needed, rather than admissions of defeat, surely?

    And just what exactly have the Councillors elected to represent the London Rd area been doing about the problem?

    Very little, it seems – otherwise they’d have already posted a relevant comment here, if they do actually care?

    And imprisonment for the perpetrators, in jail or in a Young Offenders facility, is needed, followed by a civil claim being made by the Council, in addition to whatever financial penalties the Magistrates choose to impose?

    No income? No problem – a civil court can order weekly deductions from DWP benefits!

    Or is some 500 hours of ‘chain-gang’ grafitti cleaning a strange form of ‘Disciplinary’ for Cityclean workers deemed to be too ‘un-cooperative’to work with a bin lorry crew?

    Lastly, how about some free clean-up work from those convicts sentenced to ‘Community Service’, because the prisons are overflowing?

    Are we to assume such activity often takes place on a Saturday – and Cityclean management simply won’t make the needed equipment and supplies available for such work on a Saturday?

    Come on Councillors – All this problem needs is an intelligent effort from all concerned, surely?

    City taxpayers are really not asking for ‘Golden Elephants’, are they?

  8. Rob Reply

    Minimum £1000 fine.

  9. Adam Reply

    Oh dear, Frank has taken my comment down. Green thought0 police strike again.

  10. SamC Reply

    I thought is was called criminal damage ….. a few prosecutions should cool off the taggers. Use of antigrafitti coating on all the cleaned up target areas might also help – expensive but it works.

  11. Derek Reply

    CCTV is not enough to identify a tagger , they need to be caught in action. The council dont have the personnel to have 24/7/365 patrols or to issue huge fines but the police do. So can this Journal ask the Police how many taggers have they caught and what were the fines and what plans do they have going forward to fine and catch more ?

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