Graffiti in Sheffield – you have your say

Graffiti in Park Hill, Sheffield
Graffiti in Park Hill, Sheffield

Graffiti is hard to escape in parts of Sheffield, whether it be painstakingly painted murals or hastily scrawled tags.

While the former are largely welcomed for adding a splash of colour to the city's streets, the latter get many people's blood boiling.

Diane Jarvis, Sheffield BID manager

Diane Jarvis, Sheffield BID manager

With graffiti on the rise in Sheffield, as it is in many other cities, we asked people: what can be done to reduce tagging and promote authorised murals?

Since 2015, Sheffield BID’s Clean Team has spent 1,396 hours cleaning 55,852 sq ft of graffiti vandalism from the city’s walls.

Add to this the time and money spent by Amey and private cleaning firms, and it soon becomes clear that graffiti is a big problem.

READ MORE: Spray can ban demanded to tackle graffiti blighting Sheffield

Dave Ogle, Ecclesfield Parish councillor for High Green, and voluntary graffiti buster

Dave Ogle, Ecclesfield Parish councillor for High Green, and voluntary graffiti buster

When graffiti is removed by cleaning or repainting, this can be seen as a blank canvas for taggers, and walls are re-tagged all too often.

It’s a cycle that is becoming increasingly costly for the city and the focus must shift to preventative measures, rather than just removal.

As well as removing graffiti, we work closely with BID-funded police sergeant Matthew Burdett to put preventative measures into place.

The BID has placed cameras in high risk areas, and reports details of graffiti tags to help the police with their work.

Richard Eyre, head of city centre management for Sheffield Council

Richard Eyre, head of city centre management for Sheffield Council

The best thing businesses can do to help prevent graffiti is to report any tags as a crime to the police, which can be done online or by calling 101.

The more times a tag is reported as a crime, the harsher the punishment will be for the tagger.

Once caught, if a tagger has been reported to police, businesses may also put in a civil case against the tagger to pay for any damages caused by graffiti.

READ MORE: Graffiti in Sheffield ‘getting worse’ – here’s how you can play part in tackling scourge

If there are no crime reports for a tag, the police have no choice but to let the tagger off.

When done correctly, art on our city’s walls can make our streets look bright, colourful and attractive for both residents and visitors.

Events such as Feature Walls, a city-wide trail of street art which took place as part of the City of Makers in 2016, celebrate the fantastic artistic talent in Sheffield.

I live in High Green and for five years I've removed tags from the streets and parks of my community.

It's simple, it’s cheap and it can be done without the need for harsh chemicals, instead using those that are biodegradable.

The kit I use to remove tags cost £500 with a running cost of £250 a year, including insurance.

READ MORE: Graffiti scrawled on former Sheffield fire station

I and fellow volunteers have removed at least 500 sqm of tags, probably closer to 1000 sqm.

If you want to do something about graffiti where you live, firstly enough of you actually have to have the will to do so and then you have to accept it’s like mowing the lawn.

Get funding from your ward grants pot – hey, it’s your tax pound in that pot.

You could also consider setting up a space for graffiti art, giving a space for these individuals to show off their skills, in a space their peers will see.

This space would need to be maintained and cleared regularly, but you could keep a record of graffiti that took some skill, for example a notice board with photos in it and praise, or a website or social media page.

If this space is not cleared regularly, the tagging will spread out from that location.

Complain about graffiti/tagging to our council, via councillors, but offer this workable solution or support for this scheme, as I've outlined above.

READ MORE: Graffiti-busters in Sheffield urge volunteers to join fight against spray can vandals

There are 84 city councillors and 50 parish councillors in our city. Each one could set up a volunteer graffiti/tagging removal group, alongside a graffiti wall. It’s easily done and very low-cost.

If you think the city council will sort it, wake up to the fact that they never will regardless of who controls the council. Solutions will only come from within communities.

My email is davidalanogle@yahoo.co.uk, and I’m more than willing to help in any way I can.

Tagging and unauthorised graffiti have been around for years and go through cycles where they increase and then slow down.

There are many theories regarding the reasons but none that are fully proven and unfortunately it currently seems to be at a peak.

Whilst graffiti is actually linked to a form of art and should have a place in our society, tagging is purely about profile and is a blight on our streets.

Firstly, let me cover tagging. This is simply a form of vandalism where the tagger uses their ‘tag’ and tries to get as much coverage across an area as possible.

It’s very hard to prevent as it’s done so quickly and it’s easy to conceal the materials needed to do it.

The damage it does across our community is huge not only financially from the local authority, business or building owner who is left with the cost of removal but also because as tags build up we begin to get the ‘broken window’ effect where an area can very quickly get a perception of being run-down, which encourages further crime and disorder, and can lead to more serious crimes.

There is no place in our society for tagging, which is simply vandalism to people’s property, and we continue to work with partners to try and stop it.

However, there is a place for street art/graffiti and we have run a number of projects with partners to promote this as can be seen across the city centre already.

There’s Kid Acne, Phlegm, Rocker 01 and the street art and urban scrawl tours which showcase our best work.

There are many talented people in our fantastic city and we should help them show and develop their talents in a managed way that is in keeping with the area and obviously has permission from the building owner.

I have a confession to make - I love graffiti… and I hate littering enough to spend a few hours every week litter-picking for Heeley Litter Pickers.

Let me try to persuade you to stop hating graffiti and treating it with the same contempt with which you treat littering.

My first reason for loving graffiti is that it makes walking so much more fun, keeping me fit.

The first graffiti I noticed in Sheffield during the 90s was by MK and Fista, and the publicity surrounding Fista’s imprisonment.

I was immediately drawn to the colour they added to a creepingly drab city, the weird and wonderful spaces they found to write and paint on, and the various skills involved in both tags and throw-ups.

The sheer energy and dedication involved in going city-wide is also impressive.

My second reason is that graffiti’s roots can be traced back to when our ancestors lived in caves.

It is a way for people to communicate across space and time, freely.

Writers connect with other writers in each city they visit, leaving tags like calling cards and throw-ups like gifts to other people who

appreciate this modern art form.

I love that each day there are fresh colours and shapes on walls and street furniture, like night-blooming wall flowers.

Lastly, as a woman I find adverts aimed at women to be so much more offensive and damaging to public mental health than a few tags ever will be.

A tag does not tell your daughter that she will never measure up.

A throw-up does not make you feel a failure for not being able to afford a new car or holiday.

Graffiti is a sign that non-corporate life goes on beneath our modern cities’ increasingly macho façades.

Graffiti thrives in every free city on the planet, and increasing numbers of disenfranchised women are also being drawn to this form of free expression.

Littering is the opposite impulse - truly anti-social and without regard for public health, or whether their discarded packaging ends up poisoning our waterways or soil, attracting rats and vermin to our increasingly dirty streets.

Graffiti does not spread disease, littering does. Graffiti does not get eaten by wildlife or poison our rivers and our oceans. littering does.

In 100 years time, our non-biodegradable packaging will still be choking fish and wildlife. Graffiti soon fades, but lives on in graffiti legend and

street culture.