Birmingham MP demands graffiti vandals clean up their own mess
Removing graffiti from the streets of Birmingham could be the key to cutting crime and anti-social behaviour, according to a city MP.
John Hemming (Lib Dem Yardley) is calling for a government crackdown on spray-painted slogans on walls and doorways.
And he has won cross-party support for proposals to ensure the offending material is removed – by forcing graffiti artists to clean it up themselves.
Conservative and Labour MPs have backed his proposals to change the law so that those who create the mess are ordered to remove it.
The measure could be included in the government’s Policing and Crime Bill currently making its way through Parliament, or in a new Bill introduced by Mr Hemming.
His focus on the effects of graffiti follows a study by the University of Groningen, in the Netherlands, which found that people are more likely to commit crimes or engage in anti-social behaviour if the local environment is unpleasant or messy.
In one experiment, they left fliers on the handlebars of bicycles parked next to a wall, and secretly observed the behaviour of cyclists when they came to collect their bikes.
When the wall was painted with graffiti, more than two thirds of the cyclists simply threw the flier on to the ground. But when the wall was clean, only one third littered.
The explanation is that when some people are visibly failing to behave in the way society expects, others will also ignore the normal standards of behaviour and may commit more serious crimes.
Mr Hemming said: “I want police to be able to order offenders to clean up the mess they have made.
“They’d have the right to refuse and go to court if they denied being responsible.”
He has sponsored a Commons motion, currently backed by 16 MPs from all parties, which “calls on the Government to use the Policing and Crime Bill to facilitate the use of fixed penalty community notices to ensure that those who create the mess are compelled to clear it up.”