London Borough of Merton is backing demands for legislative change in the sale of ‘graffiti’ products to under 18s, after an assessment of compliance to their Traders Code of Conduct uncovered poor results.
There is currently no legislation to prevent traders selling ‘graffiti’ products, such as spray-paints and marker pens, to people under the age of 18. Despite the fact that it is felt that such a law would make it harder for graffiti vandals to get hold of the products and therefore act as a preventative measure.
To try and tackle the problem, Merton Council introduced a voluntary code of conduct early last year. The Council encouraged traders who stock graffiti related products to sign up to the code to say they will not sell these products to under 18s. Trading standards officers visited traders across the borough to discuss the scheme and 27 signed up. Participating traders were given posters to display and information on measures to prevent shoplifting.
However the Council recently carried out an assessment of compliance to the code and uncovered worrying results. Trading standards officers visited 13 trade premises in the borough with 13-year-old volunteer Emma. The purpose was to establish how obtainable the products were to people of this age group. The results were as follows:
Nine traders sold Emma spray paint without hesitation or any questions asked about her age.
One trader sold Emma a jumbo marker pen without hesitation.
On a positive note three of the traders visited no longer sold spray paints or jumbo marker pens. However the other results are worrying, especially as half the traders visited were still displaying the posters claiming, “We support the Anti-graffiti code. We will not supply spray paint or jumbo marker pens to anyone under the age of 18”!
Merton fully supports the Government’s Anti-Social Behaviour Bill that is currently going through parliament. The Bill includes new regulations that if passed will make the sale of graffiti products to under 18s illegal. The MP for Mitcham and Morden, Siobhain McDonagh, backs the Bill. She sat on the parliamentary committee that was set up to scrutinise the Bill and has also proposed further measures against graffiti. Last month, she complained to parliament that voluntary bands on selling spry paints to under 18s were not working.
Merton Council’s Cabinet Member for Environmental Quality, Councillor Linda Kirby, said: “I am really disappointed in the results of the assessment. Fighti