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Graffiti Clampdown To Get Nationwide Push

Graffiti Clampdown To Get Nationwide Push

The zero-tolerance campaign against graffiti is about to be spread across New Zealand, with councils nationwide agreeing to back get-tough proposals by Manukau City Council.

At the recent Local Government Conference in Queenstown, councils adopted a remit to address the problem at government level by pressing for harsher penalties along with restrictions on the sale of tagging materials.

Manukau mayor Sir Barry Curtis says tagging must be treated as serious vandalism and a crime against society.

"Experience shows that it can be tackled successfully, but we will need tougher penalties. At the moment it is too easy for young teenagers to get hold of spray cans and other materials. Also, taggers are getting away scot-free. That has to stop, and law changes are needed to put teeth into the clampdown. I am delighted other councils agree. We will be taking that message to the government in Wellington."

Manukau City Council is spending $800,000 this year painting out graffiti on its buildings and property. The total cost to the city will be much higher because private buildings and structures such as lamp posts are also regularly hit.

"We are taking our cue from the successful programme adopted by the city of Phoenix in the USA," Sir Barry says. "It has largely eradicated the problem but only after getting serious about it. There are heavy fines and even jail terms, and people who dob in taggers get rewarded financially."

Manukau City Council is seeking:

-restrictions on the sale of spray paint cans and broad-tip pens -bans on the sale of these devices to under-18s -nationwide adoption of this proposal because, otherwise, tagging materials can be bought in shops in neighbouring cities and towns -restrictions on storage of tagging products in shops so that they are in secure areas under control of staff. -stronger powers for Police to apprehend offenders

Sir Barry says fines for tagging need to be high to send a message to taggers about their stupid and destructive vandalism. "I don't think $10,000 fines are out of the question. It's is vital to nip it in the bud because of what it can lead to if left unchecked."

American research has found that seemingly minor things such as vandalism and trespassing often lead on to more serious crimes.

The research also shows that if minor crime increases in one month, it can indicate that there will be a rise in serious property crimes such as burglary in the following month.

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