Graffiti to be wiped clean by offenders

TEAMS of people who have been sentenced to community service will clean graffiti from city centre buildings in the first project of its kind in the country.

The Cork Business Association (CBA), the Probation Service and Cork City Council will launch the extension to the graffiti removal scheme tomorrow.

It is the first time the free service has been offered to city traders and retailers.

“It’s a win-win situation for all involved,” CBA chief executive Donal Healy said.

The Probation Service launched its graffiti removal service in Dublin in 2008 after studying similar schemes in London.

It targets council housing estates and has two graffiti-busting buses on the road full-time.

A third bus was introduced 18 months ago when the service was launched in some of Cork’s local authority housing estates.

The service was piloted in city centre areas during the massive clean-up ahead of the Queen’s visit to Leeside when graffiti was removed from Prince’s Street and the Grand Parade.

It proved so successful, it is now being rolled out to other city centre areas.

Director of the Probation Service, Michael Donnellan, said it benefits all involved.

“It is our clients’ way of making good the harm they have done — a form of pay-back from their wrong-doings,” he said.

“Graffiti is a big problem in all local authority areas. It can have a negative impact and undermines community, and it can be offensive and demeaning.

“Our clients are trying to make a better environment and they find it meaningful work, and they feel they are making a difference to their community.

“The feedback they get from the community is fantastic.”

A Community Service Order under the Criminal Justice (Community Service) Act 1983 provides for the performance of a specified number of hours ofunpaid work of a practical nature of benefit to the community, in lieu of acustodial sentence.

City council officials will identity graffiti blackspots and liaise with the CBA, which will link in with the business owners.

They will be asked to sign consent forms and to cover the cost of paint, where graffiti is to be painted over.

The Probation Service will then be called in to either paint over it, or remove the offending material with special chemicals.

There are about 380 people with Community Service Orders engaged with the Probation Service in Cork city and county who can be assigned to the graffiti removal teams.

The team members, who range in age from 17 to their mid-50s, can respond to target areas within a few hours. They usually work between 6.30am and 10am to minimise disruption to trade.

“We are delighted to be associated with the pilot project. It is an exciting new scheme which is provided free of charge,” Mr Healy said.

“We have got tremendous feedback from retailers to date.”

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