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Blitz on York graffiti artists
TODAY we reveal the handiwork of the ten most prolific graffiti taggers who are blighting York with their spray cans.
The Press, City of York Council, the Safer York Partnership and North Yorkshire Police are asking for local residents to “turn in a tagger” and shop those responsible for defacing homes, shops, public buildings and bus stops, after new figures revealed the problem grew by 47 per cent last year.
Figures obtained by The Press show that in the past four months, 428 incidents of graffiti were reported to the TAAGY (Taking Action Against Graffiti York) team – up from 250 during the same period last year.
In total, there were 755 reported incidents of graffiti in 2011/12 – up from 514 the year before.
The Micklegate and Holgate areas have been worst-hit in the past six months, with old industrial units, cycle paths and bridges particularly badly affected.
Graffiti hotspots include Cinder Lane, the Nunnery Lane estate, the old Terry Avenue industrial site and the Riverside Walk beside Rowntree Park.
TAAGY, which was set up four years ago and works through a website holding a secure online database, says there are about 20 common tags which have been recorded more than ten times in the past year.
The group has given The Press images of the distinctive tags, or signature sprays, of the ten vandals police are most keen to catch.
One uses the word REKO which has been sprayed in blue across brick walls.
Another uses white paint to daub TMK over buildings in the city, and TOL also appears in heavy black spray paint across private property.
Other tags include TM, MIMIK, NS, LAYER, CHEO, CM and AMRO, and shops, homes and tourist attractions have all been targeted.
Coun Sandy Fraser, the city council’s cabinet member for crime and community safety, said: “Graffiti is mindless vandalism which causes serious and costly damage to buildings.”
He said York’s history and tourism industry meant it was very important to tackle the problem.
“The money spent on cleaning graffiti would be better used towards providing youth activities or schemes for young people in York.”
To report graffiti, you can use a free new “app” from the TAAGY team, available at smarteryork.org.uk or on all “app” stores.
It enables smart-phone users to take a picture of graffiti, and send the location and the photo to the council. Alternatively, send your picture to The Press by messaging 80360 and starting your message with the word YORK.
The TAAGY team received a Butlers Trust award at Buckingham Palace earlier this year for its work.
The group is run as a joint venture between the police, the city council, the Safer York Partnership and the probation service, and has been operating for four years.
The team uploads snapshots of graffiti to an innovative web-based system, which each day distributes details such as the location and the tag, directly to the community payback team, helping to identify trouble spots, prosecute offenders and aid in the quick clean-up.
The community payback team is able to immediately send a working party of offenders to tackle the graffiti.
On average, offenders provide more than 150 hours of free labour every month and the TAAGY team estimates it has saved £30,000 for York taxpayers.