Why do People Write Graffiti?
To counter the effects of graffiti vandalism and effect a successful solution, it is necessary to investigate the main motivation of offenders.
A study by the Crime Prevention Division of the NSW Department of Justice (Graffiti Vandalism: The Motivations and Modus Operandi of Persons Who Do Graffiti, 2009) stated that the single biggest motivator of graffiti vandals was “illegal fame”, or recognition within the peer group. This study also found the greatest deterrent to repeat vandalism was a combination of rapid graffiti removal supported by effective repairs.
Denied the recognition they seek, graffiti vandals are more likely to target other, less well-maintained locations in the belief their tags will remain untouched for longer periods.
A secondary motivation for graffiti offenders is the desire to visibly impact their external environment; so repair quality also plays an important factor in discouraging repeat offences. Poorly completed or substandard repairs, where the effects of graffiti are still identifiable, will actually attract further attacks as offenders continue to clearly see the effects of their tagging (refer image 1).
When we understand the motivations of graffiti vandals, it is possible to develop an effective program, to not only effectively remove existing graffiti, but also act as a deterrent to further vandalism. Whilst it is not possible to completely eradicate graffiti from a city, over time an effective graffiti program can result in repeat/prolific offenders being pushed out of the area as they seek softer locations where they will gain better and more long-lasting recognition.
Why do people not like graffiti?
The City of Sydney’s graffiti policy summarises it thus: Graffiti impacts the community in a number of ways. Graffiti can have a negative impact on community amenity including perceptions of poor safety and increased crime. Graffiti can have a negative impact on the environment through pollution (including chemical and litter runoff into waterways), damage to items of environmental heritage and atmospheric impacts caused by aerosol sprays. Finally, graffiti impacts the community and the City financially through costs associated with its removal, management and associated decreased property values.
There is a strong consensus that noticeable graffiti means the overall image of the community is affected. Indifference to graffiti by property owners is seen as the sign of a careless management, or a poor corporate citizen because of the reflection on other property owners.
When should I consider an anti-graffiti surface coating?
- On soft stone walls or historic sites prone to graffiti
- High profile areas of brick or unpainted concrete (NB Fresh concrete must cure for at least 28 days before protection.)
- Light coloured brick, stone, or concrete
- Absorbent surfaces that cannot be overpainted – artworks, limestones, marbles etc.
- Busy pedestrian spaces with frequent graffiti attacks
- Biologically sensitive areas where containment and recapture of run-off is not possible.
What is an anti-graffiti coating?
An anti -graffiti coating is a surface treatment to prevent the permanent attachment of graffiti to the underlying surface. It assists the safe removal of most graffiti without damage to the substrate.
Why use an anti-graffiti coating?
Fragile surfaces: Some surfaces are especially vulnerable to permanent long-term damage from inks and spray cans, because they are porous and light coloured (e.g. light brick, sandstone, and unglazed terracotta).
Repeatedly targeted locations: Some areas are high profile and attractive to taggers, so they are continually attacked. Repeated graffiti removal treatment can lead to surface damage from frequent use of pressure washers, or a build-up of residual ‘shadows’ of past graffiti.
Unique surfaces: murals, artworks, sculptures and other valuable outdoor features need protection so the paints, surfaces and finishes that make them special are not compromised by graffiti or removal treatments.
What are the choices?
There are two main options with anti-graffiti coatings. We believe a sacrificial coating is usually best, for cost and environmental reasons.
Sacrificial coatings: clear, thin film emulsions or solutions applied to the surface to be protected. They may be applied directly over the bare substrate, or over other types of coatings. When defaced, the graffiti and sacrificial coating is removed (usually by hot water pressure washing), and if required a new coating is immediately reapplied.
The coating provides protection against spray paint, marker/felt-tip pens, pollution and grime. It also provides protection against salt and sea spray. It is permeable and allows the surface to breath, but prevents graffiti from penetrating into the substrate. It is non-toxic and biodegradable, and made from wax polymers that act as a building protection product. The coating flexes with the ambient temperature and is durable and UV stable.
Permanent two-pack coatings: provide a very hard, clear protective film over the substrate. Clear two-pack anti-graffiti coatings impart a distinct gloss or sheen, and can slightly darken some substrates such as concrete or bluestone. Graffiti is generally removed using aggressive graffiti removal agents that dissolve everything but the two-pack coating. Application of the coating requires special handling and it may contain VOCs. The coating and its application costs are more expensive than a sacrificial coating, and many are vulnerable to UV. Removal costs are high, because of the chemicals required and the environmental precautions they demand.