Graffiti: Street art or mindless vandalism? Hundreds of tags to be removed

  • Report by ITV Meridian's Juliette Fletcher

Graffiti is an issue that certainly divides opinion. Some consider it to be street art while others believe it's simply mindless vandalism.

Over the last year, it has been in the spotlight in Reading after a Banksy masterpiece appeared on the side of the former Reading Prison.

Reading is home to a Banksy masterpiece on the side of the former prison

Now Reading Borough Council has announced more than 500 extra pieces of graffiti will be removed in a bid to encourage more people to live and visit the town.

The council is also encouraging the community to get involved too.

Graffiti in two metre squared areas will be removed from non-Council owned buildings or property for free

After the appearance of a Banksy artwork on HMP Reading in March, a councillor said the authority has noted a strong community desire to retain street art - but not all of it.

  • Councillor Adele Barnett-Ward, Lead Member for Neighbourhoods and Communities

Councillor Adele Barnett-Ward, Lead Member for Neighbourhoods and Communities, said of the jail art work:

“Reading’s Banksy became a cultural landmark literally overnight, but most graffiti is not so welcome. This new initiative will allow us to respond to more of residents’ reports of unsightly tags, scribbles and other graffiti that does not enhance our town. 

“Our previous policy was effective at removing single tags and cleaning smaller pieces, but did not allow us to offer free removal for private properties that had become graffiti hotspots. By increasing the threshold at which the Council will clean reported graffiti for free from private properties, we plan to remove 500 more pieces of graffiti across the town.

"We will also be empowering and equipping community groups to tackle graffiti in their area, and will be able to tackle some larger pieces. 

“As Reading continues to grow, the Council is committed to ensuring our residential areas are as attractive as they can be to live in. The enhanced graffiti clean-up service will help to achieve that.”

The change is expected to allow for the removal of up to 500 additional pieces of graffiti in Reading, on top of 37 sites already proposed to have tags scrubbed away.

Graffiti can be defined as any drawings, scribbles, messages or ‘tags’ that are painted or written on walls and other surfaces.

It is criminal damage and costs the UK more than £1 billion per year.