|Graffiti is costing the council
both time and money to clean up|
Graffiti writers may see themselves
as artists, but there are many residents in Northampton who would
disagree. With £55,000 a year spent on cleaning it up, Inside Out
investigates the problem of graffiti.
Subways, underpasses and motorway bridges, to a graffiti
writer, it’s a blank canvas, but there’s one man in Northampton who wishes
it would stay that way.
Bob Newcombe, a Probation Service Officer, along with
his team of offenders, works tirelessly in an attempt to rid the town
The team works for up to four days a week. In addition
Northampton Council spends £55,000 each year cleaning up graffiti.
Removing it is far from easy and sometimes even fruitless.
Vandalism or art?
is becoming an increasing problem in Northampton|
One subway, a particular favourite with graffiti writers,
is no sooner cleaned, than covered in graffiti once more.
But it doesn’t end with the subways - one man has had
his own property vandalised not once, but twice, by the same writers.
Vandalism it may be, but to the graffiti writers, it is
art. One graffiti writer says;
"Some people are never going to get their art shown in
a gallery, so the only way of showing it is on a wall… It is breaking
the law, but I wouldn’t always class it as vandalism,"
If some of their work could be viewed in abstract, there
would be many inclined to agree that there is a great skill and artistry
involved. When viewed on a subway wall, or worse, a private wall - many
would also agree - it is nothing but vandalism, no matter how much skill
"I think it’s just sheer vandalism, it disgusts me," says
Solution in sight
property is being vandalised|
So is there a solution? One Northamptonshire policeman,
PC Peter Wing, believes there is. The writers use a signature so their
work can be recognised by other graffiti writers. This signature is known
as a ‘tag’.
"You do it for other writers to see… you see other writer’s
work, that’s what it’s about," explains one writer.
In Wooton Fields, a new estate on the outskirts of Northampton,
tags are becoming a increasing problem, but they may also provide the
If individual writers can identify each other through
tags, then so can the police. And their punishment? Bob believes their
fine should cover the cost of removal and with expensive chemicals required,
that could be pretty hefty!
Writing on the wall
be the solution to catching the culprits?|
In London, a scheme to identify culprits through their
tags has resulted in several arrests.
But catching the culprits is not an easy task, particularly
when you consider that the police are not just chasing mindless teenage
vandal, but fully grown adults who are parents themselves.
So what is the solution? Whether it’s hefty fines, prison
sentences or community service cleaning up their own work, one thing is
for sure, in Northamptonshire at least, the writing is on the wall for