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JACKIE ARMITAGE, IAN CUNNINGHAM, AMY FENWICK & ED GRAY (York & North Yorkshire Probation Trust)

JACKIE ARMITAGE, IAN CUNNINGHAM, AMY FENWICK & ED GRAY (York & North Yorkshire Probation Trust)

COMMENDEES 2011-12: Jackie, Ian, Amy and Ed are a multidisciplinary group commended for their work on the TAAGY programme, which delivers a rapid response to tackle graffiti in the city of York.

IN THEIR OWN WORDS

[Jackie Armitage, Ian Cunningham, Amy Fenwick & Ed Gray give their account of the work for which York and North Yorkshire Probation Trust were awarded a Commendation]

The multi-agency Environmental Crime Task Group has grown from strength to strength and continues to use problem solving methods to effectively tackle graffiti issues in York.

Graffiti is an important issue in York. The presence of graffiti increases the perception of an unsafe area of crime, in the manner of the ‘broken windows’ theory. The very presence of graffiti, encourages further graffiti, it is a low level form of anti-social behaviour and it is often forgotten that graffiti is a crime which affects resident’s way of life. By coordinating agency work, the TAGGY system and supporting task group delivers best value, effective cleaning in residential and public areas. This give resident’s and visitors peace of mind and an improved feeling of safety in the City, whilst also improving the perception of local authority delivery into communities.

By taking a reparative approach to this work and having Community payback as a key partner, the project continues to give something back to communities, while at the same time providing an onerous, demanding but worthwhile punishment for offenders.

The dedication shown by all involved is clear by the fact that this initiative has continued through difficult financial times and still continues to deliver. Without the constant drive and positive attitude provided by the Task Group members, this would not be possible.

Since the TAGGY system was launched in August 2008, the online database that can be accessed by any multi-agency partners has received just short of 6,000 images at an average of over 150 tags a month. When a tag is entered on to TAGGY, the system automatically matches the image to other possible images either through the tag name or geographically. This allows agencies concerned with the detection of possible offenders the opportunity to understand the patterns and profiles of the most prolific graffiti taggers. At this stage TAGGY includes functionality to provide evidence and statement packages of information contained within the system, which speeds up the paperwork behind prosecutions – including sample statements from the property owner, person taking the photograph and the officer in the case.

TAGGY also includes functionality for the sharing of imagery in order for agencies to understand the level of reported graffiti. Each morning, if tags have been added to the system with the last 24 hours. TAGGY sends out a package of tags t Community Payback and to the local policing teams. This allows the agencies then involved to respond to the emerging patterns. Allowing the quick allocation of resources to either cleansing and removal or potential detection.

It is accepted that there are no other tasking, intelligence and support systems in place to assist agencies in dealing with incidents of graffiti. Evolution had demonstrated that TAGGY provides a joined-up source of intelligence at minimum effort.

INSPIRE ARTICLE

[The following article appeared in issue 4 of the Butler Trust’s magazine, Inspire]

A multi-disciplinary group from North and North Yorkshire Probation Trust has been commended for their rapid response system to tackle graffiti. Ed Gray from the Trust, Ian Cunningham of the Safer York Partnership, Jackie Armitage of City of York Council and Amy Fenwick of North Yorkshire Police, developed the Taking Action Against Graffiti in York (TAAGY) programme, a joined-up approach to sharing information about incidents of graffiti. The web-based project was initiated in March 2008 and went live in August 2008. Its aim was to coordinate environmental visual audits, so that cleaning could be targeted to hard-hit areas and prosecutions of serial offenders could be secured. With photographs and locations of graffiti constantly uploaded onto TAAGY, patterns could be traced, offenders tracked down and community payback organised. Images are emailed on a daily basis to the community payback team, who are able to respond immediately by sending out a work party of offenders to remove it.

TAAGY’s mapping system gives exact geographical location of mages and since its introduction, crime rates for criminal damage have been consistently down. There has also been a 54 per cent reduction in calls to the council’s graffiti removal service, showing the all-round cost benefits of partnership working, including to local taxpayers.

While the commendation is a team effort, its success is due in no small part to the ‘excellent and extensive networking of community payback manager, Ed Gray’, according to the director of probation, who added that the scheme shows ‘what can be achieved by harnessing the effort of a range of partnership agencies’. The scheme has been adopted in neighbouring local authority and police areas and is going from strength to strength.

For more information: contact York & North Yorkshire Probation Trust; Probation Service

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