Removing Graffiti from Historic Masonry (Part G)
Experience shows that prompt removal of graffiti is one of the mosteffective measures against its recurrence. Graffiti that is not removed quickly tends to attract more graffiti. Often motivated by a need to have their work seen, graffitists tend to be discouraged from repeating their efforts in a location where their work is quickly removed.
Apart from removal, effective graffiti-prevention measures can be considered under two headings. The first consists of physical measures involving maintenance, lighting, security and the erection of barriers on or around the property itself. The second focuses on community awareness programs that include neighborhood patrols, community service programs and educational programs in the schools.
Maintenance and Security. Neglect invites vandalism, whereasa well-maintained property encourages civic pride. Thus, careful attention should be given to establishing regular maintenance programs which do notallow properties to reach a point of obvious deterioration or abandonment. Cyclical maintenance also makes good sense economically.
Graffiti is less likely to occur if graffitists can be clearly seen.It is often recommended that accessible, graffiti-prone areas be illuminated with floodlighting or spotlights. Graffiti may also be reduced or prevented by the presence of security guards, park rangers or police officers, or by the visible presence of surveillance cameras. Publicity about arrests and punitive measures against the graffitists, and the general vigilanceof the security system may also reduce graffiti.
If they are historically appropriate and compatible with the historic property, soft barriers in the form of low, possibly thorny, shrubs and bushes or other forms of landscaping and planting may be effective deterrents.Such plantings can make it difficult to reach the property by any route other than the approved secure one. Hard barriers provided by fences andtransparent screens or shields, such as clear acrylic or other polycarbonate sheets, may also afford some degree of protection. But these can have a negative aesthetic impact on the property's appearance, particularly if the barriers themselves become disfigured by graffiti.
Community Awareness. Community action and education often play an important role in a successful anti-graffiti program. Neighborhood watches can effectively deter graffitists, and can help police and other security agencies in the detection and prevention of graffiti. Intensive public campaigns against graffiti, including presentations in schools, developing programs to foster community pride, and sentencing offenders to remove graffiti in their own community can also be useful. Publicity concerning arrests of graffitists can be a useful preventive tool. (But, on the other hand, frequent newspaper coverage of graffiti outbreaks or even of new community efforts at deterring graffiti can sometimes have the opposite effect by challenging the "creativity" of graffitists.) Community groups trained in proper cleaning techniques can also assist property owners in prompt and non-damaging graffiti removal.