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Vandalism or art? The cost and impact of graffiti removal in the UK

Graffiti isn’t what it used to be. In the early days of the activity in modern culture, this kind of expression tended towards anti-establishment messaging, anarchism and the anonymous expression of social issues. In time, this grew into distinct behaviours and patterns of art, highlighting the individual character and norms of each city in which it was performed. Banksy, the most prolific and high-profile graffiti artist in the country, has stencilled illegal designs across UK buildings for thirty years – often at significant cost to owners and government.

Nowadays, graffiti is an established artform – but this is only true in its best sense when it is conducted in legally prescribed and allotted areas. Illegal graffiti, while often visually appealing, places a staggering financial burden on our government and Local Authorities.

How much does illegal graffiti removal cost our government?

We hope you’re sitting down for this one – it’s a lot. While reports on figures vary and will be higher or lower in some areas of the UK, the overall amount per year to remove graffiti is over £1 billion. London alone pays well over ten million Pounds to replace any glass that is etched with graffiti, and it pays several million more to clean up such vandalism performed in other ways.

While graffiti can be considered art and certainly is when performed in licensed areas, it’s undeniably sad to realise that all those millions of Pounds could be instead redirected towards other government and social causes, such as education and healthcare. Graffiti is a significant, widespread issue when performed illegally and taxes the funding of Local Authorities who are often already stretched financially.

What are the fines for illegal graffiti?

Despite what you might think due to its prevalence, there are quite significant fines for being caught ‘doing’ graffiti. Several laws relate to or govern this kind of vandalism and these apply in any public places where graffiti is done on an unsanctioned surface. This includes scribbling art, messages, or general drawings.

The oldest law covering graffiti is the Criminal Damage Act of 1971. The key to this is that you could be liable for up to ten years imprisonment if you cause more than £10,000 in damage – a figure surprisingly easy to reach. More commonly, though, vandals are fined or given community service.

There is also the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act of 2005, which means your Local Authority can hit vandals with a fine of £75 or an amount they deem necessary.

The Public Order Act of 1986 also covers graffiti, specifically concerning criminal acts involving racial hatred. Seven years maximum in jail for that one.

Lastly, we have the Anti-Social Behaviour Act of 2003, which empowers your Local Authority to have offenders clean up illegal graffiti.

What See Brilliance does to help with graffiti removal

In short, we’re committed to removing illegal graffiti using non-damaging cleaning products and techniques. Our focus as a company is to stay abreast of technological developments in graffiti removal and restorative cleaning, allowing us to draw on modern products, machinery and techniques with which to gently and thoroughly remove illegal graffiti from any building’s surface or façade.

You can see more about our graffiti removal services here. See Brilliance is a leader within our industry and can remove graffiti from any building’s surface. We do this using techniques like DOFF Steam Cleaning, which is environmentally conscious in its application.

How do I report graffiti in my area?

Many citizens are troubled by graffiti in their residential and city areas and by themselves, their Local Authorities can sometimes be slow to act. Knowing this, the government has made it possible for residents to report graffiti and vandalism through a simple online portal you can access here.

Want to discuss graffiti removal?

Art or artless? It’s an interesting subject and we hope you’ve found this latest article from the team informative! We’re right here if you’d like to speak to us. Simple call 01635 230888 or email [email protected]. Have a great day.

See Brilliance has over 30 years experience in specialist restorative cleaning of metal, glass and stone. We provide façade and cladding restoration, restorative cleaning services, DOFF Steam Cleaning, graffiti removal services, and much more, all across the UK.

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