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Complaints fall as council gets on top of graffiti in Oxford
Buy this photo » Simon Long gets to work removing graffiti on a wall near Marston Ferry Pool
THE number of complaints about graffiti in Oxford has dropped by half as the money being spent on cleaning it has risen.
In 2010-11, Oxford City Council received 825 reports, falling to 679 the following year and 390 in the past 12 months.
At the same time the amount of taxpayers’ money being used to tackle the problem has gone up from £96,000 to £101,000 in 2011-12 and £107,000 in 2012-13.
Community leaders said there was less graffiti in the city and praised the council for its “proactive” approach.
Oxford Civic Society chairman Peter Thompson said: “As far as I’m concerned, what I have noticed is there seems to be less graffiti around.
“I have had personal experience of asking the city council to clean up graffiti and, when I have, they have done a remarkable job, remarkably rapidly.
“This decline in the amount of graffiti could well be a result of the improved efficiency with which the city council cleans it up, rather than fewer incidents.
“I think the city is looking much tidier in respect of things like graffiti.”
Council staff have cleaned a growing number of pieces of graffiti, tackling 1,662 in the past 12 months, 31 per cent more than the year before, when it got rid of 1,266. A council spokesman said the number for 2010-11 was not recorded.
Old Marston Parish Council chairman Charlie Haynes, who had previously complained about graffiti in the underpass under Marston Ferry Road, said the situation was improving.
He said: “I don’t think there’s been quite as much under the underpass as there used to be.
“We do have a problem in the Mortimer Hall recreation ground, where they put it on the base of the basketball area.
“The council is very good at cleaning it up. They have this special high-pressure stuff. They’re most certainly being a lot more proactive.”
Graffiti “tags” which have plagued Oxford in recent years include “soak” and “BWS” in East Oxford.
Donnington Bridge and the bridge by the railway station have also been repeatedly targeted.
Last year, graffiti tagger Charlie Silver, then 21 and of no fixed address, had to pay £200 after admitting one of four “soak” crimes he was charged with.
But “soak” tags have been seen since his arrest, and police have refused to say whether they are still actively seeking a suspect for the other incidents.
Thames Valley Police dealt with 17 graffiti offences in 2010-11. Of those, 11 people were charged, two were issued with penalty notices, three were made to clean it up as their punishment and one was reprimanded.
In 2011-12, officers dealt with 10 offences, issuing three cautions and one penalty notice, charging one offender, and making five clean up their work.
Officers dealt with six incidents in 2012-13 and arrested four people on the spot. One penalty notice and one caution were issued.
Council spokesman Louisa Dean said: “We have invested in a dedicated team and state-of-the-art specialised graffiti-removal vehicle to improve the service we offer. The increase in costs is largely due to an increase in fuel and cleaning material costs.
“We remove offensive graffiti within 24 hours of a report. Non-offensive graffiti will be removed within seven days of a report.
“If graffiti is on private premises or land, we do not have jurisdiction to remove it, although we actively try to work with and encourage private landlords to remove all graffiti from their premises.”
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