Graffiti is the most common form of vandalism across the United Kingdom. It is every business owner and homeowner’s worst nightmare. Not only does graffiti alter the overall visual of the building, but you may also be left to deal with the hefty financial cost of graffiti removal.

Preventative strategies can be tedious and involve intense planning, learning and resources to find the right approach. Testing a variety of preventative methods can be an expensive process, however, does not compare to the repetitive removal fee you could end up paying to remove the toxic paints from your walls and fencing.

Whether you have become a vandal’s target or simply want to secure your property, there are a number of ways you can prevent future attacks.

What is graffiti 

Everyone has their own opinion on graffiti. Some consider it an art form, whilst others view it as a social nuisance. 

According to Crime Prevention, the term ‘graffiti vandalism’ refers to illegally defacing private or public property with markings and graphics without the owner’s consent. Visually, shapes and words are spray-painted onto a solid surface in a variety of colours. Graffiti can be used to express individual or a public opinions on political or social controversies. However, graffiti more commonly appears as a form of hate crime. 

It is known that graffiti-ridden areas encourage further criminal activities, such as theft, anti-social behaviour and rioting. High-risk areas include:

  • School grounds
  • Play parks
  • Shopping centres
  • High traffic zones

Top tips to prevent vandalism

There are a number of steps you can take to prevent graffiti vandalism in your area:

Make sure the area is well-lit 

Graffiti artists are drawn to poorly lit areas where the likelihood of them being caught is fairly low. The majority of graffiti vandals work during the evenings and night to avoid attracting too much public attention that could land them in trouble with the police. When you ensure the vulnerable areas of your buildings are securely lit, you will ultimately discourage the anti-social behaviour completely. One can hope that the thrill of performing an illegal activity will be outweighed by the risk of getting caught. 

If you are worried about your electricity bill, you could choose to use motion-activated light sensors. When selecting a lighting system, you should consider the following:

  • Lighting should not be blocked by trees, fences, brick walls or other buildings
  • The visibility of the light should cover at least 10 metres 
  • All light fixtures must be cared for and repaired if necessary
  • Ensure your light fixtures are positioned at height to avoid deliberate damage attempts

Install security cameras

In addition to maximising your lighting range, installing security cameras is another successful deterrent. Not only will CCTV deter vandals from committing a crime, but it will also catch an image of their faces, which can serve as legal evidence if necessary.

Installing an alarm system alongside your CCTV aims to catch intruders off guard; scaring them from committing further crime. Many CCTV systems allow you to watch via your mobile phone, allowing you to be alert at all times. 

Create a graffiti-free environment around your property

Various landscape designs can be considered to help deter graffiti vandals. Large, blank surfaces such as fences, brick and stone walls are deemed a graffiti vandals dream as they allow for visual display. By reducing the amount of blank surface space available, your property will become less appealing to vandals, lowering the risk of anti-social behaviour. 

Implement anti-graffiti coatings

There are a variety of anti-graffiti coatings that you can apply to hard surfaces. One of the popular anti-graffiti coatings is the sacrificial coating. Used in liquid form, a sacrificial coating is designed to create a barrier between the toxins within the graffiti spray and the building surface. The coating will not stop graffiti from occurring, but also protect the surfaces. 

Permanent anti-graffiti paint

Alternatively, there is a second option in terms of choosing a type of prevention coating. Though slightly more expensive, it is more permanent.

This specific barrier coating has been designed in such a way that the paint particles are unable to stick to the blank surface. The graffiti painting will slide straight off; any small remains of any graffiti paints can simply be wiped away, meaning the protective coating will not require re-appliance to prevent any further graffiti.

Implement scratch-proof glass coatings

Implementing scratch-proof glass in replacement of regular glass for windows can deter graffiti vandals from etching onto the blank surface. Scratch proofing a window is a cheaper way to ensure your building stays graffiti-free. All you need to do is line up the scratch-proof film over the window glass and smooth it on; this can provide a sacrificial layer of protection. The film, if vandalised will protect the glass of the window, it can then be easily removed and replaced, leaving the glass once again in the utmost best condition. 

Educate your neighbourhood 

The majority of graffiti vandals are unaware of the financial burden left behind for property owners. Over 67% of graffiti artists believe that they are not breaking the law, but rather a voice for political opinions. They believe that creating a visual on a blank canvas, such as on the side of a building, is an effective way of attracting positive attention for political and social issues. 

Creating a campaign that educates the public, including the vandals, is the way forward. The campaign could include matters such as:

  • The tedious process of removing graffiti
  • The financial cost of preventative strategies
  • The economic value of the removal process

If executed correctly, the campaign may make others think twice before committing similar crimes and deter innocent teenagers and uneducated adults from performing such acts. 

Remove graffiti immediately 

Whilst removal isn’t quite a prevention strategy, it’s important to note that you should aim to remove the graffiti immediately once the incident has taken place. London Assembly states that the most effective way to prevent graffiti is to report it and remove it promptly. Studies show that removal within 24 to 48 hours leads to a low rate of recurrence. This is a critical step in reducing the likelihood of vandalism within an area. 

If you are unsure about how to tackle graffiti on your property, get in touch with ICE Cleaning today to speak with one of our experts. Check out our page on Graffiti Removal for more information.