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Tuesday 4 May 2010

Cheshire East Council Defacement Charter

1. Aim
To further improve the visual street environment by the prevention, and timely removal of graffiti and fly-posting
The presence of graffiti and fly-posting encourages a spiral of decline, which can undermine community cohesion and the efforts of public agencies. It can exacerbate the fear of crime; undermine local investment in regeneration; and adversely affect education, aspirations and jobs. Conversely, tackling environmental crime sends a message to a community that things can improve and encourages the establishment of a stronger, more confident local community.
Cheshire East Council is committed to improving the visual Street Scene for the benefit of all those who visit, live and work within Cheshire East.
2. Definition of Graffiti
The illegal or unauthorised defacing of a building, wall, street and park furniture or other edifice by painting or otherwise marking it with words, pictures or symbols.
Under certain circumstances, Graffiti is classified as a criminal offence under the Criminal Damage Act 1971. The Police Service is the only enforcement agency with the legislative powers to prosecute an offence of Criminal Damage.
3. Definition of Offensive Graffiti
Offensive graffiti will be illegal or unauthorised and may contain some or all of the following elements:
 Offensive language
 Language of a politically / racially / religiously insulting / inciting nature
 A hate statement
 An image that is graphically explicit
 An image, which is visually offensive or textually offensive by its nature
 Libellous or potentially libellous statements

4. Definition of Fly-posting
Although there is no set definition for fly-posting, technically it is criminal damage. It is where a person affixes any printed matter on to property without consent. This could be a leaflet, poster or unofficial signage.
5. Principles of the Charter
Cheshire East Council has a statutory responsibility to the general public in the District to make it safer, cleaner and greener as detailed in the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003 and the Clean Neighbourhood and Environment Act 2005. Cheshire East Council recognises that any kind of defacement has a negative impact on the environment. Although to enable charitable and community events to be advertised it will be essential to work alongside the organisers of these events and gain permission from the relevant officer of the Council.

The Council pledges to remove graffiti and fly-posting from its own property within 10 working days of any sightings or report and will remove offensive graffiti and fly-posting within 2 working days of any sightings or reports. However, delays can occur when there is a need for disclaimer forms to be used or in particular when graffiti is difficult to remove and requires specialist attention, road closure or traffic management.

If graffiti or fly-posting is on property not owned by Cheshire East Council, the Council will provide advice to the owner on different methods for removal. Some private and public companies and authorities (also known as Public utility providers) also have a legal duty to remove graffiti from their property, including, although not exclusively the following companies and organisations:

 British Telecom (BT): Green boxes and telephone boxes
 Virgin Media utility boxes
 Network Rail: Railway infrastructure including bridges
 Bus Companies: Buses
 British Waterways: Canals and Bridges
 Housing associations
 Scottish Power

The Council will continue work to produce partnership agreements with statutory undertakers, public utility providers and others in order to develop a systematic and consistent approach to eradicating graffiti and fly-posting with the District.
6. Timescale for Removal of Graffiti and fly-posting
Graffiti and fly-posting: The Council will endeavour to remove graffiti and fly-posting from its property within 10 working days of any sightings or report. In particular for graffiti not on land owned by the Council it is recognised that additional time may be required as the owner must be contacted and advice given. The aim is to remove graffiti or encourage the owner (if not the Council) to remove it as quickly as possible. This is important as graffiti attracts further graffiti, engenders fear of crime and becomes more difficult and costly to remove with time.

Offensive Graffiti: The Council recognises that offensive graffiti is totally unacceptable and will endeavour to remove such graffiti from its property within 2 working days of any sightings or report. For such graffiti not on land owned by the Council it is recognised that additional time may be required as the owner must be contacted and advice given. However efforts to get such graffiti removed will be a priority for the Council.
7. Responsibilities and Powers
Responsibility for the removal of graffiti and fly-posting primarily rests with the owner of the property involved.
The Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003, Chapter 38 - Cheshire East Council can remove graffiti from property outside of its ownership issuing a “Graffiti Removal Notice” to an owner requiring him/her to remove graffiti from private land within a stipulated timescale which can not be less than 28 days. Failure to comply with such a notice may result in the Council carrying out and charging for works in default (subject to right of appeal).
Cheshire East Council will initiate prosecution proceedings against an individual or group when the Council believes that a criminal offence under the Criminal Damage Act 1971 has taken place.
Penalty Notices for graffiti and fly-posting - Cheshire East Council has the ability to issue fixed penalty notices to offenders who have perpetrated acts of graffiti or fly posting. The intention of this legislation is to levy the penalties only on the persons actually committing these acts, and not in the case of fly-posting on the person (unless he is one and the same) whose goods or services are advertised on the poster.
8. Dealing with offenders
Cheshire East Council works closely with other enforcement agencies to ensure that offenders are tracked and dealt with appropriately when caught. The Council gathers and stores photographic and video evidence to support legal cases against graffiti and fly-posting offenders, and shares intelligence where appropriate with other enforcement agencies, including the police.
9. Education, Support and Awareness
The Council is dedicated to educating and informing residents about the Councils Charter for Graffiti and fly-posting removal.
We will maintain a variety of free educational based activities on enviro-crime, which are available to all residents and our local Schools. We will continue to promote diversionary projects and work with other agencies in order to reduce graffiti and fly-posting in Cheshire East.
The Council website should be used to give information to residents and local businesses whose property has been defaced by graffiti and fly-posting. Graffiti Clean-up kits will be offered to local community groups, voluntary clean-teams and Town/Parish Councils to enable the local community to deal with small amounts of graffiti as it arises.
10. Procedure for reporting graffiti and fly-posting
All sightings of graffiti and fly-posting can be reported through the usual reporting procedures for Streetscape.

A message to Brian Sylvester who is trying the get the graffiti removed in the West End


I have been forwarded a copy of your original message regarding the graffiti in the West end of Crewe and can update as follows:

· I will make arrangement to identify each of the locations of the graffiti and make contact with the land/property owners to give advice and guidance on how to deal with issue. There has been previous reports of graffiti in the West end of Crewe and the LAP manager (Richard Christopherson) had identified and bid for external funding to clean this off and I have forwarded a copy of your message to ask if this is the same graffiti.

· If it’s not the same graffiti and it’s not possible to remove on this occasion I will contact the probation service to see if they are able to assist, if property owners are not able to make their own arrangements.

I will keep you up-dated of progress and have attached a copy of the Defacement Charter that is due to be released.

Charlie – are you able to arrange for the graffiti to be photographed with a list of locations, and I will contact the land owners.

Kind regards,

Caroline Yoxall
Senior Streetscape Officer
Cheshire East Council

Pyms Lane Depot

T 01270 537881
M 07970 745812

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