The assembly's graffiti committee found that the cost to schools, hospitals, public transport and businesses - in terms of removing graffiti and in lost investment - was more than 10 times originally estimated and had risen dramatically in the past five years.
London Underground said it will cost an additional£8-10m to replace all the glass on trains etched with graffiti and millions of pounds to remove track side graffiti and replace etched interior panels on trains. Arriva bus company reported that a fleet of 25 new buses had 85 windows etched after just one month of service.
People who write illegal graffiti do not respect borough boundaries and a London-wide strategy to counter graffiti is desperately needed. Andrew Pelling, chair of the graffiti committee, said: 'Graffiti results in unacceptable costs to Londoners. The growing costs encountered by the tax-payer and the impact on London's economy means vital cash is not being used to improve our public services and it deters businesses from investing in communities.'
The committee is urging the government to introduce legislation across the UK to halt the increasing damage of graffiti writing. A ban on the sale of graffiti materials to minors throughout the UK is urgently needed. The high cost of graffiti justifies the broad range of co-ordinated proposals that the committee propose for tackling London's illegal graffiti.
A lack of youth initiatives is blamed for some young people misdirecting their energies into graffiti. Projects that do exist are often short-term with limited cash and are therefore unsustainable. The report urges the mayor and local authorities to re-assess the funding available for youth and educational initiatives that provide opportunities for young people and engage them in their community.
Andrew Pelling added: 'We have tolerated graffiti as inevitable for far too long, but we do not have to live with it or accept it as part of our urban environment. All Londoners - including parents, local communities, boroughs, transport operators, businesses, utility companies and schools - have a role to play in ensuring illegal graffiti is permanently removed from the capital. Throughout this investigation, we were told about examples of good practice and educational measures which aim to reduce the prevalence of graffiti writing. Standards in London for combating graffiti are way below those best practicesadopted in other countries and vary dramatically across boroughs. A graffiti clean-up across the capital is long overdue.'
The committee's research shows that London boroughs spend£7m annually removing graffiti and transport companies spend over£6m. This combined cost rises to£23m if the costs of replacing the etched glass on London Underground are taken into account. Other costs to be taken into consideration include money spent by businesses, utilities, rail companies, Railtrack, homeowners, voluntary organisations, the loss of investment opportunities, and the funding of various education and diversionary programmes.
The ALG is promoting the 8th London Local Authorities Bill on behalf of all the London boroughs. The graffiti committee is recommending that the government introduces legislation extending the provisions of the Bill to the rest of the UK, thereby restricting the sale of graffiti materials to minors across the country.
* The report is available here .