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Southwark Council announces new measures to tackle graffiti on high streets

14 November 2023

Southwark Council is to offer a new, free-of-charge graffiti removal service for private businesses. The council has introduced this policy in response to the escalating issue of unsightly graffiti vandalism in the borough's town centres.

The new policy, adopted this month, applies to privately owned buildings and infrastructure up to a height of two meters from ground level.

The council provides graffiti removal services from council-owned structures and public street furniture, such as lamp columns and litter bins. However, up until recently business owners were responsible for addressing graffiti on their properties, either through the council's fee-based service or by making their own arrangements. Unfortunately, many business owners refrained from graffiti removal due to the associated costs. The council’s cleaning service has achieved a 98% success rate in clearing graffiti from council owned building within 24 hours of receiving a report.

This week Southwark’s cleansing team will be removing graffiti along Peckham High Street as part of a weeklong blitz. The team will be targeting other known hotspots over the forthcoming weeks.

Councillor James McAsh, Cabinet Member for the Climate Emergency, Clean Air and Streets, said: “Graffiti, not to be confused with public art, is a growing concern for residents and businesses across the borough. This is why we're taking decisive action to eliminate these eyesores from our high streets by providing local businesses with a complimentary graffiti removal service.

“Given the ongoing cost of living emergency, we understand many businesses are struggling to keep afloat and struggle to cover clean-up costs themselves. We're here to help.

"To get things started, our cleansing teams are out in Peckham this week clearing graffiti from storefronts and commercial buildings. We will target other known hotspots in the coming months and are also ramping up monitoring and enforcement. It's also crucial that we work with partners to encourage public art while deterring vandalism."

In addition to the introduction of the free graffiti removal service, the council is taking further steps to combat graffiti, including:

  • Collaborating with Safer Neighbourhoods Teams and British Transport Police to identify graffiti vandals and seek criminal prosecutions against graffiti vandals;
  • use of Community Protection Notices or other enforcement powers where property owners do not use the council’s graffiti removal service and do not make their own arrangements for graffiti removal
  • Explore community arts initiatives including the use of public murals

Graffiti can be reported via the council’s FixMyStreet app or on the council’s website.

Page last updated: 14 November 2023

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