'Vital' app to report racist and homophobic graffiti developed at Swansea University

  • Dean Thomas-Welch reports from Port Talbot, with scenes that some people might find upsetting.

An app developed at Swansea University to help clean up racist and homophobic graffiti has been described as "vital" in tackling offensive anti-social behaviour.

StreetSnap is currently being piloted in Bridgend but will soon be available across Wales, and then eventually the whole of the UK.

It is hoped through educational and community-based outreach it will help get to the bottom of the issue, tackling it for the long term.

It comes after a Windrush mural in Port Talbot was vandalised with extreme racist language and Nazi imagery.

Jalisa Phoenix-Roberts, who reported the incident to the police, has described the moment she saw the street art had been defaced for the first time.

She told ITV Wales: "When I first saw the mural, I felt unsafe in my own hometown.

"If I felt unsafe then I can't imagine how others felt. I was disappointed and I was quite shocked because I didn't think this area was like that."

Jalisa posted about the racist graffiti on social media which garnered a huge response from the public.

She said: "There was a risk with posting about the mural but I felt if nothing is done, then who's going to do it if it's not you?"

Most local authorities are required by law to remove offensive graffiti, stickers and posters.

Dr Lella Nouri, an associate professor of criminology at Swansea University, invented the app and gave ITV Wales a demonstration of how it works.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...

She said: "Take a picture on your phone. Select what type it is, so it could be graffiti or a sticker.

"You can then write any comments you may have and then categorise it appropriately.

"We all know what it's like to walk down a dark alley and you see something you don't like. It makes you feel unsafe.

"If it's about a community you feel affiliated with then it makes you feel more aware of the dangers.

"It could just be something that someone doesn't understand, so we need to rid that from our society to remove that tension.

"The more hateful graffiti and stickering we have, the less integrated a society we have and we know that caused more and more problems."

Jalisa's brother, Martin, was the first person to discover the Windrush mural in Port Talbot had been defaced.

He said: "The app is vital. [By] allowing people to be anonymous and the ability to be on the move whilst [reporting] it.

"It's progressive. Better late than never, in my opinion. But as someone who is always striving for progress, I do feel like we're just plastering over the cut.

"We're not dealing with the issues. The issues are the people and the education.

"But this is the next step and it's really nice to see people do things to make people feel safer."

A teenage boy admitted putting racist graffiti on a Port Talbot mural for the Windrush generation.

The 17-year-old, who cannot be named because of his age, pleaded guilty to two counts of racially aggravated criminal damage and five terror offences.

Have you heard our new podcast Talking Politics? Every week Tom, Robert and Anushka dig into the biggest issues dominating the political agenda…