With businesses closed and streets quiet, lockdowns and tiered systems designed to prevent the spread of Coronavirus have presented vandals with an ideal environment to increase tagging and unwanted graffiti while people stay home. In fact, the Office of National Statistics reported a 45% increase in anti-social behaviour, such as graffiti, during the first national lockdown.
When left, graffiti creates an unwelcome environment and can encourage other antisocial activity such as fly-tipping or vandalism. And as Richard Mcllwain, deputy CEO of the environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy recently pointed out: “Places that are covered in graffiti, particularly low-grade tagging, signal to the community at large that an area is unloved and uncared for.”
As retail and hospitality businesses prepare for the lead up to Christmas (tier level dependant for hospitality as to whether they are eat-in or takeaway only), they should inspect their premises for unwanted graffiti and ensure it is removed. Here’s what you should do if you find your building has been targeted by taggers.
Quick and effective removal often acts as a deterrent, because the offender may feel as though their efforts have been wasted if their work is erased quickly. Under the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003, the person responsible for the surface is liable for the cost of getting graffiti removed. This means that it falls to the owners or managers of a building to deal with the problem. If graffiti is left untouched for too long, local authorities can issue a Graffiti Removal Notice, which requires the property owner or manager to remove the graffiti in a certain timeframe or face the risk of prosecution.
Of course, it is relatively easy to simply paint over the offending material, but this is not always a practical solution. In fact, it can sometimes create what is seen as a blank canvas, inviting even more graffiti in the future. Luckily, the permanent and effective removal of graffiti isn’t as onerous or time-consuming as one might expect, but it does require professionals with access to specialist cleaning techniques.
One of the most successful ways to remove graffiti is EcoBlasting. The process enables graffiti to be removed quickly and professionally, without harming delicate surfaces, or leaving any marks or shadowing on the building. It works by using compressed air to blast an environmentally benign abrasive, such as bicarbonate of soda or recycled glass, on the surface to remove substrate layers.
EcoBlasting is environmentally friendly and non-toxic. The abrasive material used to help remove graffiti can be altered depending on the surface type, location and the extent of the paint being removed. Bicarbonate of soda is an effective material to remove paint from glass and rubber, without any permanent damage being caused to the surface. If the graffiti is on concrete or a less delicate surface, recycled glass is a quick and effective solution. The correct abrasive should be tailored to the specific requirements of the removal to optimise the cleaning process.
There are a lot of considerations with graffiti removal processes so Rentokil Specialist Hygiene offers a full survey and assessment of the premises before any work takes place. EcoBlasting can be used on glass, wood, metal, brick and most stone surfaces, including soft stone, such as limestone, which would be eroded by an acid cleaner. A survey will ensure that the correct abrasive is used when the cleaning work takes place, and will also take into account the hardness of the surface as well as any other environmental considerations within the surrounding area.
Following EcoBlasting, it would be wise to have an anti-graffiti coating applied to the surface. This coating prevents paint from being absorbed, so in areas prone to frequent targeting, any future graffiti can be quickly and easily removed with detergent and water. Treating the surface in this way should hopefully prevent any repeat offenses from happening, once offenders realise their future work can be removed without hassle.
If your building is vandalised by graffiti, then it is best to get in touch with specialist cleaning professionals. Rentokil Specialist Hygiene technicians are trained to understand the latest legislative requirements in their area of expertise, and will be able to recommend the correct process to follow on a case-by-case basis.