Published: 20:09, 14 June 2019
| Updated: 20:09, 14 June 2019
A local authority is offering a £500 reward to anyone who can help it convict vandals responsible for a series of tags across a district.
Canterbury City Council is hoping the inducement will aid its crackdown on graffiti, which it says is costing taxpayers thousands of pounds to clear up.
Community committee chairman Neil Baker says such vandalism "is having a damaging effect on our community".
"Criminal damage is a crime which is investigated by the police and has real victims – homeowners, businesses, the utilities and council taxpayers," the Tankerton councillor added.
"Dealing with the consequences of graffiti is using up valuable resources which could be better used on the frontline.
“We are cleaning off more tags than ever before but it is hard for the public to spot we’re doing that, because the vandals are quick to offend again.
“Someone will know who is behind this wanton destruction of other people’s property and we urge them to come forward.”
The authority has released three photographs of the tags.
A £500 reward to catch graffiti vandals was proposed by Liberal Democrat councillors Nick Eden-Green and Michael Dixey in February.
The former says the move will save the local authority time and money.
"We think it will be cheaper to pay a few people who help with a prosecution than actually cleaning the stuff up, which is a very expensive process," he explained.
"Quite often it also involves tracing these people which uses quite a lot of police and council time."
Offering a reward is the latest in a raft of measures introduced by the council to tackle graffiti.
It appointed an officer dedicated to monitoring online reports and carrying out cleans in October. Since then, he has removed 600 tags.
Letters have been sent to shopkeepers across the district reminding them they can be fined £2,500 for selling spray paint to under 16s.
Anti-graffiti paint has been used and cameras installed in so-called graffiti hotspots in Canterbury, Herne Bay and Whitstable.
The council says it is also issuing Community Protection Warnings or Community Protection Notices as a last resort to property owners, particularly those with substantial holdings or high-profile buildings, who do not tackle graffiti on their premises.
However, Cllr Eden-Green believes the authority's crackdown has been ineffective.
"Given the fact the city is still blighted by graffiti, which has literally been in place for months and years in some cases, the council clearly has not been successful in dealing with the problem," he said.
"Last year, District Life, the authority's own magazine, announced a war on graffiti and those measures have been manifestly inadequate.
"The council's simply not keeping up with it, otherwise we'd be living in a cleaner city."
On receipt of a property owner’s permission, the authority's contractor Serco will clean graffiti from private properties for free up to four times a year and twice for businesses.
The company also removes offensive graffiti for free.
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