The PCEG is working hard to reverse the tide of graffiti that is ruining our environment. We want to demonstrate to anyone who cares that painting graffiti out as soon as it occurs, will demonstrate to the perpetrators that its just not worth repeating their efforts.

The point was effectively demonstrated at the site that the group first chose to initiate the project at the beginning of 2000. The derelict site remained clear of graffiti for the next three years until it was demolished. It was only necessary to paint over the odd tag every few weeks. Above left are the garages that we’ve kept tag-free for years, and the Old Mill pub that we’ve just cleaned up. The Slade Post Office (below) was another site we adopted to show that the battle is easily won.

The owners had come to the view that it was pointless painting out the graffiti, because the offenders would simply return. We wanted to show them that it is possible to take control and easy to stay on top of the situation. Only a few tags have ever appeared on the wall since then, and they have been very quickly and quite easily painted over by a member of the group.

One of our current targets is the cable boxes and dog poo bins that are a favourite canvas for taggers. The box below left has been re-tagged many times, but we paint them out or as fast as we can. Its not difficult to stay on top of this scourge once you have made up your mind that you will not allow people to spoil our living space like this. We appeal to everybody to bite the bullet and get out their paintbrushes!  The huge tag at the Slade Ponds below right only lasted a few days before we got the council to help us remove it.

The following introductory article appeared in the Graffiti-Busters column in The Mercury:

Although graffiti has been around for centuries, it’s in recent years that it has reached a level where it’s literally ruining whole areas and undermining community life. Every surface is fair game - nothing and no-one is respected. This has got to be said; it’s no use turning a blind eye to it any longer. Quite simply we must oppose graffiti, and there are ways to fight back.

What is needed is a single minded commitment on the part of individuals, schools, businesses and the council to remove graffiti from their properties. And having removed it, a determination to remove it again as soon as it is put on, until the vandals get the message.

People hate graffiti, it depresses them, but they feel powerless to do anything about it. Comments I’ve heard are: ‘It’s futile to remove it because they’ll only put it on again’ or ‘I didn’t ask to have it put on, so it’s not up to me to remove it.’ But it is up to all of us to say ‘hey! I live here, I refuse to tolerate graffiti. I didn’t put it on my property but I will take it off because it is ugly and offensive.’ Plumstead Common Environment Group’s recent initiative, which was covered so well by The Mercury, was intended to show that local people reject graffiti being imposed on them by others and are prepared to remove it themselves. Yes, the council has a graffiti removal team, but they can’t possibly remove every bit of graffiti all of the time.

How do you remove it? In most cases all that’s needed is to keep a tin of paint handy, the same colour as your wall, fence, gate, shop premises, or whatever, and paint it out as soon as you discover it. This will usually take only a few minutes. Where graffiti has been allowed to build up it will of course take longer, but by dealing with it promptly in future you will have less to do, and eventually little or none. Think of it as a routine task, like sweeping the floor: we continue to do this even though it soon gets dirty again. White spirit, or even water is effective for removing graffiti from windows and metal surfaces. There are also graffiti removal sprays available. Brick walls are more difficult: you need to rub gently with another brick and then rub in some earth - sounds primitive but it really works.

Remember, if everyone did their bit and routinely removed graffiti from their property or premises then graffiti would become pointless, and would cease.

Anti-Graffiti Action