Editorial: Scrawl of the wild needs a hard line

By Dylan Thorne

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Graffiti is a blight on the community. So it is good to hear that this form of vandalism is on the wane in the Western Bay.

The indiscriminate nature of graffiti attacks - and the fact that the culprits appear to place no limits on what they are willing to deface - shows a hard-line approach is justified.

This lack of respect was clearly illustrated last week when taggers were caught red-handed defacing the back walls of the Tauranga Community Foodbank in Dive Crescent.

Why these people would want to vandalise someone else's property is beyond me and I find it disgusting that an organisation set up to help the needy in the community should be the target of such an attack.

These markings detract from the beauty of the Western Bay and those who sneak around spray-painting walls obviously have no respect for the city they live in.

Nor do they appreciate the fact that their actions are hitting others in the pocket. It costs Tauranga ratepayers on average $16,250 a month to remove tags and court-ordered reparation of about $10,000 a year only recoups a fraction of the $195,000 annual bill to paint over tags.

The good news, as reported in yesterday's paper, is that the number of tags being removed is dropping.

In total, 1177 tags were removed over the past five months, compared with 1237 tags for the same period last year.

Over the past three years the number of tags being removed has dropped by about 400 a year.

You can be assured that this has not been a natural decline.

A co-ordinated multi-pronged approach to the problem, including a zero tolerance stance, robust enforcement and crime prevention measures are responsible for the drop.

Tags are removed as soon as possible to hamper the culprit's bid to gain recognition and a database has been set up to help identify tags and those responsible.

As this paper has noted before, Tauranga has made progress, but the problem still remains and is an unacceptable financial burden on ratepayers. The culprits should be made to pay the cost of removal or their parents should be held accountable.

The pressure that is being applied needs to be maintained - even increased - to ensure the drop in tags continues.

Our community will look all the better for it.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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