REVEALED: Sheffield's most graffiti-blighted neighbourhoods

Graffiti on the wall of Gleadless Medical Centre

Graffiti on the wall of Gleadless Medical Centre

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Graffiti tags defacing walls, shop shutters and bus stops across Sheffield have generated more than 8,000 complaints over the last five years.

Ugly scrawls across the city prompted 8,233 gripes to the council over the last five years, and The Star can now reveal the worst-affected neighbourhoods.

A shop shutter in Heeley

A shop shutter in Heeley

Unsurprisingly, the city centre is the biggest source of graffiti complaints, with 229 logged for Central ward during 2016 and 1,262 over the last five years.

Gleadless Valley, where there were 99 complaints during 2016, and Walkley, with 98, were next on the list, followed by Darnall (73), Broomhill (72), Beauchief & Greenhill (70) and Burngreave (also 70).

Manor Castle was the source of the most complaints across the five years, with a whopping 2,170.

But a Freedom of Information request by The Star revealed the annual figure for the ward has plummeted from 933 in 2012 to 40 last year.

Kingsley Gough

Kingsley Gough

It is not clear whether this is because the problem has died down or people are just fed up of complaining.

The total number of graffiti complaints logged by the council has fallen steadily from 2,247 in 2012 to 1,240 last year.

But over the same period, calls to Streets Ahead, the roads maintenance programme managed by Amey on behalf of the council, has risen from 546 in 2013 - the first full year of the contract - to 1,182 last year. No ward-by-ward breakdown was available for these figures.

When The Star visited Gleadless Valley to ask people about this stain on the city, there was an tone of resignation to many of the responses.

Gildo Teixeira

Gildo Teixeira

While most people felt graffiti was a blight on their neighbourhood, they felt little could be done to stop the vandals, who would soon return should their handiwork be scrubbed away.

Speaking outside a shopping parade at Newfield Green, off Gleadless Road, where a couple of smeared shutters provided a fitting backdrop, Sheila Lacey, aged 71, said: "I don't like graffiti. I think it brings the area down.

"I wouldn't say it's a massive problem. There's a bit on some of the shop shutters but if there's any on the Co-op they usually paint over it pretty quickly."

Mum-of-three Sian Webster, who has recently moved to the area, felt the abundance of graffiti made it 'scruffy'.

Nevio Bagnoli beside a mural on the wall of his hairdressing salon in Heeley

Nevio Bagnoli beside a mural on the wall of his hairdressing salon in Heeley

She claimed more activities for young people, and tougher punishments for vandals caught in the act, would make a difference.

"There needs to be more for children to do. They're just getting sucked into gangs, going round thinking they're clever, because there's so little for them to do," she said.

"Maybe if there were bigger fines for graffiti, parents would do more to clamp down on their children."

Down the road, metallic tags several feet high covered the wall of Gleadless Medical Centre and a housing block bore the faint vestiges of graffiti on its brickwork.

Kingsley Gough, an apprentice joiner, aged 19, didn't find graffiti too bad in the neighbourhood but was irritated by the little he had seen.

"The murals are nice but I don't like the writing. I don't see the point and it makes you less proud of your postcode," he said.

John Deakin

John Deakin

"It's going to be hard to catch those responsible, and cleaning it up is futile because they will just do it again."

Gildo Teixeira, a 39-year-old warehouse worker, said: "I don't like it, especially when people spray bad words. I see a lot of it, and I don't know why anyone would want to damage someone else's property.

"I think there should be tougher fines, or people will keep doing it, but there are bigger priorities for police and the council."

Graffiti, along with littering and fly-tipping, was highlighted by the Federation of Small Businesses last month as it launched a year-long campaign to tackle the 'plague' of filth it said was costing the city millions of pound in lost investment.

It is a costly problem for cash-strapped Sheffield Council, whose parks service last year spent more than £70,000 scrubbing off graffiti across the city - 17 per cent more than in 2015.

A council spokesman said: "Graffiti amounts to criminal damage, and it is unfortunate that a small minority of people choose to ruin other people’s, and public, property in this way.

"It costs the council, and private individuals, a lot of money to clear graffiti up – money that could undoubtedly be better spent elsewhere, particularly when public services are currently so stretched.

"We advise building owners to be vigilant and make it as hard as possible for unwanted graffiti to be applied. This might include putting in fences or barriers, or the use of proprietary protective wall coatings."

The council reminded householders they can get graffiti removed for free by calling 0114 2500 500, and businesses wishing pay for the service can contact the same number. It urged anyone who knows those responsible for graffiti to call police on 101.

South Yorkshire Police received 1,074 calls about graffiti in Sheffield during the five years from 2012-2016, around three fifths of the 1,880 made across the county.

The results of a Freedom of Information request by The Star suggest police are ramping up action against graffiti vandals.

Last year, 59 people were summonsed or charged for criminal damage involving graffiti in Sheffield, compared with 69 for the previous four years combined.

Police also issued 22 cautions for the offence in the city during 2016 - more than the 17 they handed out in total between 2012 and 2015.

The figures also showed that last year 16 suspected graffiti vandals in Sheffield took part in Restorative Justice, which helps offenders atone for their crimes, and three were slapped with penalty notices.

In Heeley, which falls within the ward of Gleadless Valley, a post office, pub and numerous shop shutters along Gleadless Road had all been spray painted.

Rachelle Beattie, landlady of The Victoria pub, described the building's unwanted paint job as a 'pain'.

"It doesn't look good and doesn't create a great impression for people visiting the area for the first time," she said.

Retired pipe-fitter John Deakin, aged 68, felt graffiti was becoming more of a problem in the area.

"It has got worse and it seems to be the same people doing it because you get a lot of the same tags," he said.

"Apart from cleaning it off there's not much you can do. It's a sign of the times and how people these days have no respect for anything or anybody."

Further down the road, on the wall of Nevio's Barber Shop, is a shining example of graffiti's more acceptable face.

The towering mural depicting the area's rolling greenery and local landmarks was painstakingly created by Heeley Development Trust using vandal-proof paint used thwart those who have tried to deface the artwork.

Nevio Bagnoli speaks with great pride of the mural, which is one of the many examples of stunning street art scattered around Sheffield.

"It's a lovely mural and a real talking point for people round here," he said.

"You get some less pleasant graffiti on doors and that, like in any area, but I do think it's better than it used to be."

HOW BAD IS GRAFFITI WHERE YOU LIVE?

Graffiti calls logged per ward by Sheffield Council

2012/2013/2014/2015/2016/total

Arbourthorne

219/352/77/45/28/721

Beauchief & Greenhill

80/81/152/161/70/544

Beighton

4/7/1/2/16/30

Birley

5/12/7/5/6/35

Broomhill

50/31/14/36/72/203

Burngreave

66/28/45/44/70/253

Central

232/293/310/198/229/1,262

Crookes

9/19/15/12/23/78

Darnall

67/37/34/63/73/274

Dore & Totley

7/11/7/21/13/59

East Ecclesfield

24/16/36/35/21/132

Ecclesall

26/25/17/34/46/148

Firth Park

34/17/14/26/26/117

Fulwood

6/4/2/4/9/25

Gleadless Valley

82/70/113/129/99/493

Graves Park

14/32/48/18/26/138

Hillsborough

18/10/14/48/42/132

Manor Castle

933/805/320/72/40/2,170

Mosborough

42/15/13/17/18/105

Nether Edge

47/40/42/52/54/235

Richmond

29/12/9/14/11/75

Shiregreen & Brightside

47/43/15/22/14/141

Southey

43/33/38/31/28/173

Stannington

29/13/15/26/48/131

Stocksbridge & Upper Don

8/10/16/17/8/59

Walkley

66/34/31/41/98/270

West Ecclesfield

30/16/36/28/27/137

Woodhouse

29/8/20/9/23/89

TOTAL

2,247/2,074/1,461/1,211/1,240/8,233

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