Clamping down on spray paint sales

Merton businesses sign up to the SWAAG initiative

Under 18’s will find it harder to buy spray paint to use to graffiti the borough, as 28 Merton retailers have signed up voluntarily to the SWAAG initiative – South West Action Against Graffiti.

Under the SWAAG initiative Council officers visited retailers in the borough who stock spray paints to encourage them to sign up voluntarily to say they will not sell spray paints to under 18’s. Several retailers in the borough have even decided to stop selling spray paints all together. Merton Council has joined forces with 11 local authorities in southwest London to crack down on graffiti vandals through the SWAAG initiative.

It is not currently illegal to sell spray paints to under 18’s and as a result it is easy for youths to get hold of it to use for the purpose of graffiti. Under the SWAAG initiative retailers have agreed to only sell spray paint to over 18’s and will require valid ID. It is hoped that this will make it more difficult for youths to buy the paint for graffiti. Under the SWAAG initiative retailers are also advised on where to store the spray paint to avoid it being shoplifted.

The aims of SWAAG are:
· To establish a co-operative approach to catching graffiti offenders in southwest London
· To pursue changes in legislation to enable the effective and swift prosecution of graffiti vandals
· To give councils the power to enforce graffiti removal from privately owned land and/or allow them to recharge the cost of graffiti removed from property owned by private companies like Railtrack or Public Utility companies.
· To seek voluntary/statutory changes in the rules governing the sale of paint sprays and other graffiti materials
· To work with youth groups, schools, residents associations and other organisations to establish preventative measures to combat graffiti vandalism.

Councillor Linda Kirby, Merton Council’s Cabinet Member for Environmental Quality, said: “Graffiti is an offensive sight in our borough and the SWAAG initiative is an excellent step in the right direction towards preventing graffiti. I praise all the retailers who have volunteered to sign up to the scheme.”

Merton aims to remove graffiti from Council property within five days, and offensive or racist graffiti from anywhere in the borough within 48 hours. Contact Merton’s Graffiti Officer to report graffiti or to join in a community clean up, on 020 8545 4109 or e-mail graffiti.project@merton.gov.uk.

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