Cleanup work put under pressure
Fewer criminals are being given community work in Timaru, prompting a shortage of people being tasked to clean up graffiti.
Neighbourhood Support South Canterbury co-ordinator Denise Langrish believes the shortage is the result of fewer people being sentenced through the courts to community work.
However, the Corrections Department could not confirm that yesterday.
Previously, those on community work were frequently sent out to clean up paint left by taggers, by scrubbing it off walls or painting over it.
Senior Constable Bill Phiskie said that had dropped off significantly, which he also put down to fewer people coming through the court system. The issue will be discussed tomorrow at the Safer Communities committee meeting.
Mr Phiskie said the frequency of tagging in the town fluctuated.
"Some weeks there's none . . . [but] there's about seven files from the weekend where someone's found a spray can lying around . . . and left a trail on their way home," he said. "We keep on it week after week to try to keep it under control."
Mrs Langrish said repairing the damage was not always easy.
"We do try to clean it up as fast as we can, but the biggest challenge is getting [the property owner's] permission . . . or finding out who the owner is. We can't just clean up people's property without their permission."
The aim was to get rid of the tagging as soon as possible, to discourage copycat behaviour.
She said one elderly woman's property had been "severely" tagged, to the point she needed her entire fence repainted.
Neighbourhood Support, Safer Communities, the police and Community Watch all work together to combat the problem. She said those groups often thought their work was paying off, but it only took one spray can to upset things.
"If there's a spray can lying around . . . [the taggers] just can't help themselves."
- © Fairfax NZ News