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New Graffiti office for Christchurch

29 April 2008

Following up on the success of the strengthening Philipstown graffiti vandalism programme, the Christchurch City Council has approved the setting up of an office that will coordinate a similar city-wide programme.

Deputy Mayor, Cr Norm Withers says the setting up of the office was a pro-active move to solve the issue of graffiti and tagging in Christchurch, using an approach that looks at strategies for social change.

"We are now taking a strategic lead by offering a three-pronged approach to curbing what is a significant growth in graffiti vandalism over the past two years,” he says.

The approach includes:

(i)         Restoration where there is quick and early removal of tags by accredited community volunteer groups, including making the taggers do the clean-up and removal.

(ii)         Education – making youth as well as community members and leaders aware about the impact of graffiti vandalism, how it can be prevented, and how everyone can do their part to help.

(iii)        Prevention – an intervention programme where restorative justice strategies including  a range of collaborative prevention is applied to lower recidivism and to draw parents in to the process.

The approach is based on the successful Graffiti Vandalism Pilot Project developed and implemented in Phillipstown as a long-term, sustainable, collaborative city-wide initiative. The pilot has been supported by the Council, Hagley/Ferrymead Community Board, Christchurch Police, the Phillipstown Community Centre Charitable Trust and the Phillipstown School principal.

With the new office, the Council will continue to expand on this successful collaboration with the Police, Ministry of Education, the Canterbury Youth Workers Collective and Christchurch communities.

A 12-month trial period saw some 36 young people referred to the pilot project, completing 1,325 hours of community service with the intervention programme resulting in seven young people being supported into employment/apprenticeships and three returning to school. The pilot project saw tagging in Phillipstown reduce from 25 percent to just four percent.

“We are spending a lot just cleaning up after the taggers. Funds that could be used for roads, parks, and other community improvements, are used for tagging clean-up,” says Cr Withers. “There is a long way to go yet in terms of endeavouring to reduce what is becoming an unacceptable epidemic. This initiative is a positive start”.

The new office will be initially funded by the Council, with a transfer of $150,000 from its Transport and Greenspace Unit. The Council is applying for a government grant of $200,000 and will seek a further $150,000 from potential funding partners such as Orion and NZ Rail.


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