Bricks & Blocks 1,772 views Jul 05, 2017
Creative vandalism paints Britain's towns in a poor light

It’s a crime that causes no physical suffering, yet graffiti is damaging in so many other ways. It’s estimated the so-called ‘tagging’ of public buildings such as schools, hospitals and businesses results in a monumental cost to the taxpayer. In London alone, it’s reported the public purse shells-out £7 million per year to help local authorities remove unwanted scrawls from walls, signage and council-owned properties.

The national figure is even more distressing. It’s estimated the cost of graffiti removal throughout the country is over £1 billion a year. Public transport suffers particularly badly at the hands of paint or spray-totting vandals, with London Underground alone earmarking an annual £1 million to replace glass defaced by ugly etchings.

Public nuisance

Nuisance graffiti should not be confused with the sort of street art which involves the painstaking decoration of pavements and the like and adds a dash of carefully-sculptured colour to otherwise drab, urbanised environments. The graffiti the majority of the world would like to see wiped-out is the purposeless, random scarring of everyday sites and objects which instills a perverse sense of achievement within the ‘artist’, and a sense of despair within everyone else. 

UK law is doing its bit to deter the vandals. Britain is one of the few countries in Western Europe where graffiti-ists face a substantial fine or jail-term depending on the severity of the offence. The maximum penalty for 12 - to17-year-olds is 24 months’ detention, whilst adults face serving up to 10 years behind bars for deliberately defacing property.

Paying the penalty

The threat of incarceration did nothing to dissuade a gang of teenagers from engaging in 125 spray paint attacks on trains and trams across Manchester. The two-year campaign between 2012 and 2014 resulted in damage totalling £123,000 and a court appearance for the five youths which attracted nationwide media attention.

The gang, who filmed themselves carrying out the attacks, some of which took place during daylight whilst passengers were actually on the train, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit criminal damage, claiming in court they hadn’t realised their ‘graffiti-bombing’ of public transport was a crime. Each of the five defendants received a suspended custodial sentence.

Soluble solution

If the courts are to get tough on graffiti, where is the substance that is tough on the damage itself, ensuring its quick and easy removal? Sika has developed a product which not only removes recurrent graffiti with a simple jet wash; it acts as an effective deterrent to illegal fly-posting.

Brush or roller applied, Sikagard®-850 AG Anti-Graffiti and Anti-Poster requires nothing more than a cold water hose and clean cloth to make good a defaced structure or vehicle. This simple process eliminates the need for chemically-bound detergents or aggressive cleansers, making it a cost-effective, environmentally-friendly graffiti deterrent.

Once applied, Sikagard®-850 AG leaves a glossy film on surfaces to ensure illegally-pasted posters fall-off in days.

Benefits of Sikagard®-850:

  • Graffiti can be removed permanently without damaging the surface
  • It ensures flyposters will not adhere to a treated surface
  • No chemical agents are used in the cleaning process – only cold water pressure
  • Water vapour permeable, it offers superb resistance against ageing and weathering 
  • Its use enhances a surface’s colour, giving it a ‘wet-look’

Unfortunately, public infrastructure is viewed by graffiti vandals as a blank canvas on which to express their baffling sense of the artistic, and all the while the ingredients remain at their disposal – paint; a spray can; a bare wall – the defacement will continue. For every instance of creative vandalism, however, there is now a soluble solution – Sikagard®-850 – the simplicity of which is an art-form in itself. 

By Bob Orishaguna, Buildings Manager – TM Refurbishment at Sika