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Education a valuable tool for the war on graffiti

MEDIA RELEASE
14 February 2005

Education proves to be a valuable tool for the war on graffiti

A graffiti update presented today at Auckland City's Public Safety and Community Order Committee shows that eradication, prevention and education are proving the keys in combating graffiti crime.

Graffiti prevention officer Rob Shields says that the volunteer programme is constantly growing and is proving to be a very valuable aspect of the overall award-winning zero tolerance programme. Volunteers are now routinely reporting graffiti, forwarding digital photographs, and keeping their designated areas graffiti free.

"Aucklanders have had enough. We are getting lots of people joining our Zero Tolerance Programme to do their part in helping the council battle graffiti vandalism. However, we also need advertisers and role models like hip hop artists and sports stars to throw their weight behind the cause and reinforce the message that damaging people's property isn't cool," says Mr Shields.

The zero tolerance strategy also encourages private property owners to take responsibility for their own properties.

The two week graffiti awareness education programme, developed by Auckland City for primary schools, is now recognised within the education sector as a valuable component and has been implemented in education workshops as part of teacher training. The programme aims to make children aware of the consequences of tagging and rewards them for adopting areas in their neighbourhood or street to keep clean.

Of 236 primary schools in the city, 43 are already part of the programme. Two new schools begin the programme in late February, and repeat visits are now common in primary schools.

"Kids are really showing they are behind the programme through the pride they are taking in their communities and prominently sporting their graffiti deputy badges," Mr Shields says.

Two colleges are also considering introducing the education programme to Year Nine students.

The prevention and education components of the zero tolerance on graffiti programme are providing a deterrent factor as the younger vandals are made aware that they will be identified and held accountable for the damage they cause. The programme is now responsible for about 40 youth offenders spending time during their school holidays doing community service for the city.

Councillor Graeme Mulholland, chairperson of the Public Safety and Community Order Committee says, "Some of these prolific vandals are costing ratepayers and private property owners hundreds of thousands of dollars. The total bill for council's zero tolerance strategy for private property owners is running at $520,000 a year, down from $890,000 when the zero tolerance campaign started. The best way to help young people stop offending is to hold them fully accountable for their actions."

The community boards mural programme is proving to be another innovative way of channelling taggers' creativity. Graffiti prevention murals have been completed in Avondale and Onehunga. The Onehunga mural was a partnership between Auckland City and Sanitarium staff who devoted a day to the community service initiative.

The graffiti programme has been responsible for the removal of over 60,000 sites and the apprehension or arrest of 297 graffiti vandals.

Ends

Note to editors:
Important numbers for reporting graffiti:
- Parks, bus shelters, litter bins, street furniture and private property adjacent to the road – call Auckland City Council on (09) 379 2020
- Power poles and transformers – call Vector on 0508 832 867
- Adshel bus shelters – call Adshel on 0800 802 999
- The motorway – call Transit NZ on (09) 302 4632.

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