Councils across Northern Tasmania believe the key to fighting graffiti is not punishment but deterrence, quick removal, incentives for reporting vandalism and encouraging legitimate street artists.
After a spate of tagging in the Cataract Gorge, The Examiner asked council officers and representatives how best to deal with the problem.
West Tamar Council general manager Rolph Vos said experience showed that if graffiti was dealt with quickly it was less likely to “catch on”.
“We do get a bit at the skate park in Beaconsfield which we remove/paint over pretty quickly but other than that we are probably only called on to deal with ‘offensive’ graffiti once every couple of months,” he said.
Northern Midlands mayor David Downie said graffiti within his municipality was generally isolated to the public toilet facilities.
“Since the installation of security cameras at several public toilet facilities within the municipal area, the number of graffiti incidences has significantly reduced,” he said. “From July 2016, council notes two reports of graffiti or vandalism, which cost a total of $500 to repair.
“Prior to the installation of security cameras, council used to spend thousands on graffiti removal and parts of the Perth and Campbell Town toilets required repainting every few weeks.”
He said there was not a specific graffiti policy in place but in terms of public spaces available for street art “our youth community have not raised this as a need”.
Meander Valley Council’s general manager Martin Gil said the Vandalism Incentive Policy was implemented in 2000.
“The policy applies to the vandalism or destruction of any council controlled property and allows for a minimum offer of $300 be made by way of a reward for information leading to the conviction of persons vandalising or destroying property,” he said.
“This be increased to a maximum of $1,000 at the discretion of the mayor or general manager depending on the severity of the vandalism.”
City of Launceston General Manager Robert Dobrzynski said the council's graffiti prevention and reduction policy was endorsed in 2013, and provided a framework for how to prevent and reduce graffiti crime.
“While the council doesn't specifically account for graffiti removal costs from Council assets in its budget, we estimate those costs at about $20,000 a year,” he said.
“Our cleansing crews remove graffiti as soon as possible from Council assets, as this is a well-recognised method of discouraging further vandalism.”
He said the council’s focus as an organisation was on discouraging mindless tagging and vandalism, while also encouraging legitimate artists.
“The City of Launceston had much success with this approach, notably through its acclaimed Off the Wall program in 2013 and 2014,” he said.
“This project saw the Council partnering with City Mission, Tasmania Police, Cityprom, the Launceston Chamber of Commerce, Youth on Paterson, Meenah Mieene, Youth Justice North, Whitelion and the Junction Arts Festival on a number of initiatives around graffiti prevention and street art.”
Mr Dobrzynski said the wall at the Skate Park in King's Park was available for street art, allowing legal expression for graffiti artists, and in the past laneways like Dicky White's Lane and the laneway next to the Paterson Street West car park had been made available.
“As we continue to roll out various elements of the Launceston City Heart Project, we also continue this aim of minimising vandalism while encouraging legitimate artistic expression; namely through using anti-graffiti treatments on public infrastructure and making areas available for public art,” he said.