Police boss says catching Leeds graffiti artists ‘not a priority’

Cracking down on graffiti and tagging across Leeds is not a police priority, the city’s district commander has said. Superintendent Steve Dodds told a council meeting that he had to concentrate resources on fighting violent crime and domestic abuse.

Concerns have been raised recently about a local explosion in tagging, where individuals leave a signature or personal mark on public property. Councillors in Headingley, Hyde Park and Woodhouse say the issue is widespread in their wards, but elected members in areas as diverse as Farnley and Wortley, Kirkstall, Wetherby, Cross Gates and Pudsey have also complained about the practice.

But speaking to Leeds City Council’s environment and communities scrutiny board on Thursday, Supt Dodds said while police did “look at” such offences, it was “extremely difficult” to catch the perpetrators. Asked if he could give a “commitment to prioritise” tagging, Supt Dodds said: “I think we need to get into balance where the priorities and resources need to go.

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“All of my deployments and my focus is based on vulnerable victims and where the most harm, threat and risk is, which is why I’ll always deploy officers to issues such as knife crime, domestic abuse and serious sexual offending before we look at prioritising graffiti and other forms of criminal damage.”

Supt Dodds said that though neighbourhood policing teams do follow up on graffiti offences, they are “resource intensive” in terms of bringing the criminals to justice. He added: “Yes we do look at it.

“Is it going to be one of my biggest priorities? Unfortunately I can’t say it is because when people are losing their lives in the city, being abused and being coerced by their partners, that’s where my focus has to be.” Kevin Brighton, who leads the council’s anti-social behaviour teams, said the local authority had a duty of care to clean up racist and offensive graffiti within seven days.

Tagging has exploded across Headingley, locals say

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