The issue of graffiti continues to divide opinion. For every
person who sees it as an eyesore, you'll find someone else who
views it as decoration or even art. The elusive and now
internationally renowned graffiti artist Banksy is now exhibited in
galleries worldwide; in the 1980s, Jean-Michel Basquiat became the
toast of the New York art scene after his graffiti was spotted on
the city's subway trains.
This makes any event around graffiti removal a potentially
contentious one. It's important to be aware of this before you
embark on a clean-up. You may want to consult with the local
community before taking any action - in some rare instances,
graffiti may be seen as an expression of pride in an area, rather
than a sign of neglect and disrespect.
Despite these important points, it should be remembered that it
is illegal to draw on a wall or other surface without the
permission of its owner. And most of what is classed as graffiti is
a long way from being art - more often than not it involves
offensive comments or gang 'tags' which many people find ugly and
What can you do about graffiti?
Your local council is responsible for graffiti removal
from public buildings and monuments. If you have a problem with
graffiti in your area, you should report it to them. In some cases,
the council may also be able to help you with graffiti on private
Graffiti is often difficult to remove and requires
specialist skills to do so. While low-level graffiti can be tackled
with a tough scrubbing brush and a lot of elbow grease, most
requires special equipment if you want to get the job done
If you want to organise an event that involves removing graffiti
from private property, you should still contact your local council.
While they may not remove the graffiti for free as they would on
council property, that doesn't mean they won't be able to help:
> They may offer to remove the graffiti but
charge for the service.
> If the council cleansing department can't
remove it themselves, they may be able to offer advice on the best
way to do so and also what preventative measures you can take to
stop more graffiti.
> The council may also be able to recommend
specialist private contractors who could carry out the job for
> If you think your team of volunteers can
tackle the job themselves, the council may be able to advise on the
hire of cleansing equipment.
Learn more about graffiti
Because of its scale and the practical complexities
of its removal, graffiti is a major issue for most council
Many have departments specifically responsible for dealing with
the problem and have a mechanism for reporting it, often through
the council's website.
For those council's that need it, Keep Britain Tidy runs graffiti removal training courses. These
courses are also open to members of the public who want to do more
to improve where they live. The courses can provide equipment,
information and tips on how to remove graffiti.