Clean-up teams have removed graffiti from more than 100 city centre businesses in the last six weeks in a bid to rid Sheffield of spray paint.
Four teams from Sheffield Business Improvement District have tackled sites at the request of business owners, who were provided with the service for free after the usual levy fee was waived as part of a special scheme.
The scheme had promised 60 properties would be cleaned but managed to extend this to more than 100.
Yesterday a clean up team was dispatched to remove graffiti from the back of Mecca Bingo on Flat Street – one of the businesses worst affected.
Graffiti remover Tom Thistlewaite, aged 29, said: It’s really bad around the city centre. Here is the worst place though, I’d say. It was really thick on the walls, up to three feet high as well.
“It’s the busiest we’ve ever been. We’ve been working non-stop for two to three months now.
“It’s the same names we keep seeing. I think ‘Inka’ and ‘Willow’ are probably the worst, but some you can’t even read.”
Tom said he felt sorry for the business owners who are suffering at the hands of the graffiti taggers.
“It’s not nice too look at. Some graffiti is good but this isn’t when it’s just tags. And it affects the shops too, it makes them look bad.”
Diane Jarvis, Sheffield BID manager, said graffiti continues to be an important issue and the organisation would be launching ‘clean teams’ for levy payers.
She said: “Now the weather is better and there will be more events over the summer we’ve been focusing on the ‘grot spots’.
“The impact on businesses is very important. If you are affected by graffiti, it is an inconvenience and it puts people off coming to you.
“It makes you feel vulnerable when you’re confronted with it. It’s all about customer perception.
“This isn’t something that businesses can tackle on their own. We need to work together.”
BID is also looking at longer-term measures to prevent graffiti. These include using anti-graffiti paint, CCTV cameras and employing a crime reduction officer.
Diane said: “We are also thinking about commissioning street art as a deterrent.
“Graffiti needs to have permission otherwise it’s just vandalism.
“Grinders Hill is a particularly badly affected area and if this was painted with a mural or something similar it might prevent tagging. This would be a deterrent; apparently there is a code of ethics which would mean taggers would be less likely to paint over it.”
There are also plans for youth intervention which may include educating pupils at school, running a young offenders’ intervention programme or working with the community to encourage youngsters’ creativity in a different way.
Diane said: “We can’t just keep cleaning it off, we would just run out of money. More needs to be done.”