Graffiti prevention techniques

Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) is an effective way to prevent graffiti. Examples of some CPTED principles that can help prevent graffiti include:

  • Natural Surveillance - Make your property visible using Natural Surveillance
    • Try to make the view to your property as clear as possible. If vandals can hide behind something while doing graffiti, they will. This can be achieved by using ‘see through’ fencing (i.e. non-continuous materials – widely spaced pickets)
    • Ensure there is sufficient lighting in outside areas as it can reduce the risk of graffiti attacks. However, it is important not to light areas that are hidden from public view as this can aid graffiti vandals by lighting the canvas. Security lights are a good option for this reason
    • Consider surveillance cameras to watch over high-risk areas. It is important that you select cameras suitable for the environment where you intend to use them (i.e. Outdoor/Indoor and Day/Night cameras) as this will have a major impact on the quality and usefulness of the footage
  • Natural Access Control - control access to your property
    • Graffiti vandals like high spaces that can be seen by more people. Remove or restrict access to natural ladders around your property that can be climbed on to access high areas (i.e. bins, trees).
    • Incorporate plants (i.e. vegetation, hedges) in front of walls and structures to restrict access for vandals. Consideration should be given to the eventual height and width of the plants selected to ensure it is appropriate for the location. Your local garden centre will be able to recommend a suitable plant for your property.
    • Fencing can also be used to restrict access to your property. It is important that any fence used can be properly secured. However, it is important to make sure the fence is not creating something for vandals to hide behind or paint. Dark-coloured, non-continuous materials are less likely to provide a canvas than light colours and continuous surfaces.
  • Territorial Reinforcement - create clear boundaries
    • Make sure it is clear who owns the property as this makes intruders easier to be seen.
    • Consider using fences, landscaping, signs, lighting or changes in surfaces to define public, semi-public and private spaces.

Maintenance and Management – Maintain your property and remove graffiti quickly

Maintaining your premises and property in good condition is important as it demonstrates that the area is well looked after. This indicates to a vandal that the area is visited frequently and that they have an increased chance of getting caught.

Graffiti should, therefore, be removed as soon as possible. The longer it remains the more difficult it is to remove. Graffiti that isn’t removed is also known to attract more graffiti and other anti-social behaviour as it indicates to vandals and other offenders that the area is not regularly monitored.

Murals and Legal Street/Urban Art can also be an effective way of preventing graffiti. Replacing otherwise continuous, blank surfaces with murals and legal art has been shown to reduce the risk of illegal vandalism. Council can provide advice on mural installation where appropriate.

Property owners can also select materials that will make graffiti removal easier. Some options include:

  • Dark colours – Masking graffiti is easier when the affected surface is a darker colour. It is more effective to paint over a light tag with dark paint than to paint over a dark tag with light paint
  • Appropriate Materials and Finishes - Metals such as stainless steel, glass and some stone (e.g. granite) are easily maintained and not preferred by graffiti vandals. Try to avoid porous finishes such as plain brick or unpainted timber as graffiti can soak in and make removal difficult
  • Protective and ‘sacrificial’ Coatings – Protective coatings are designed to provide a barrier between the base coat or material and any graffiti paint. They have a specific role in protecting unpainted brick and stone surfaces or surfaces painted in unusual colours or patterns that are difficult to match. Consult a trade centre or contact Council to determine which coating is most appropriate for you.

Support for businesses and the community

Brisbane City Council is committed to providing businesses, community groups and residents with support, information, and advice in relation to graffiti management and prevention.

Small business owners can access support for graffiti prevention and removal with the Graffiti Small Business Assist program, a joint initiative of Brisbane City Council and the Queensland Government.

As a part of the program, Council’s Graffiti Liaison Officers are available to provide graffiti removal and management advice, assistance, and resources, including:

  • an individual graffiti assessment on your property
  • graffiti prevention advice and removal instructions
  • graffiti removal kits. 

Small business owners can contact Council to request assistance under this program.

Council is also happy to assist individual community members and community groups with graffiti removal and management advice and assistance.

More information

If you require more advice, information or support, phone Council's Taskforce Against Graffiti on 07 3403 8888.

Last updated: 31 May 2022

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