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Graffiti takes a financial and emotional toll

Graffiti takes a financial and emotional toll

I live in a neighbourhood which is subject to tagging. A few weeks ago four neighbours had their garage doors tagged. We all pulled together, took time out of what we'd otherwise planned to do and quickly removed the evidence. All was well until last week, when another garage door was tagged. This time the autograph was a metre long and just about as high, done with in dark red spray paint. Removing this tag took a whole bottle of meths and two hours of intensive labour.

I'm standing for Council in the Eastern Ward and I've talked to residents who have had letter boxes, sides of houses, fences, garages, power poles, etc all repeatedly autographed.This kind of mindless and repeated damage really takes its toll, both financially and emotionally.

I've talked to council staff, the police, and paint retailers about this, and I've got a few ideas.

Firstly, a lot of damage is done with spray paint. People purchasing spray paint already have to provide ID, as its illegal to sell to those under 18 years of age. I'd like to see the brand, paint colour and date of purchase recorded against the customers name and address. Then when there's a tag, the police could check the colour against a register of recent purchases. This would work even better if purchasers had to leave a deposit, refundable when they return the can. This would encourage all legitimate users to get their jobs done swiftly, and get off the register.

Secondly, I'd like the public to be encouraged to report all tags, no matter how small. Wellington City Council has a great new FIXIT app, where you can send in a photo of stuff that needs fixing. Why not add tagging to this so that a record can be kept, and a pattern of offences established? The thing I cant understand is that taggers are essentially leaving their signature, so why isn't it easier to find out who they are?

Thirdly, I'd involve taggers in the cleanup process, and not only cleaning up tagging, but other community projects as well. It would be great to think that the community could get alongside these people and motivate their energies and talents to better uses.

Sarah Free
Candidate, WCC Eastern Ward


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