Graffiti spike linked to new law

Fremantle Police acting Senior Sergeant Adrian Roberts said he had noticed an increase in the number of graffiti cases in the past few months, with a high number of perpetrators claiming they believed it was now legal to graffiti in Fremantle.

The introduction of the graffiti removal policy earlier this year sought to prioritise how the city removed graffiti, with offensive tags to go first while other, more artistic graffiti would be pushed down the priority list.

Community engagement division superintendent Noreen O’Rouke said research showed the policy had unintended consequences, including an increase in vandalism and other criminal activity.

‘A recommended way forward for the city is to identify a specific building or asset which will be named as a legal wall,’ she said.

Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt said it was too soon to report on the trend due to historical fluctuations from month to month.

‘There was a one-off spike in graffiti after the policy was adopted in February but by March it was about average when compared to the monthly totals over the past two years,’ he said.

‘It is made very clear in the policy that people who engage in graffiti are still committing an offence.’

Town of East Fremantle principal environmental health officer Shelley Cocks said the Town was working on positive ways to combat graffiti.

‘We have weekly graffiti removal and we also have been successful in obtaining grant funding from the office of crime prevention for urban arts projects,’ Ms Cocks said.

‘We’re working on our fourth project at the moment and we have found them to be terrific for involving local school children and decreasing graffiti in the area.

‘Our stats show that having urban art on public spaces significantly reduces graffiti offences on those areas.’

However, Ms Cocks said there had been an increase in graffiti that was more expensive to remove, such as big tags, forcing the Town to have already used up its $20,000 budget for removal, an increase from the $11,500 that was spent last year.