Barnstaple residents are being urged to help put a stop to a growing problem with graffiti.

Graffiti in Eastern Avenue, Barnstaple.Graffiti in Eastern Avenue, Barnstaple.

The Newport area of town has seen a number of tags left on walls, utility substations and in bus shelters.

There is an obligation for racist and offensive graffiti to be removed. However, the onus for removing most cases of graffiti is on the land or property owner.

The message from district and county councillor John Mathews and Barnstaple PCSO Ron Gibson, is that the criminal damage needs to be reported as soon as possible to increase the chance of catching offenders.

“It’s broken window theory, if we have a broken window and it doesn’t get replaced or sorted, you get more of them. One tag leads on to another,” said PCSO Gibson.

Graffiti in Eastern Avenue, Barnstaple.Graffiti in Eastern Avenue, Barnstaple.

“If people take weeks to report it there is less chance of us catching the offender, so it’s really important it gets reported as soon as possible.

“We are in the community but we don’t see everything so we rely on our community to tell us what’s going on and report it.

Councillor Mathews said the graffiti did not reflect well on Barnstaple, and encouraged land and property owners to help by removing the vandalism.

“It doesn’t do the town any good,” he said.

“People drive in to town and they see this – what kind of welcome to Barnstaple is that? This is the main road in from the link road and it’s all over town.

“It doesn’t take much to get rid of it, and there are ways the more artistic work can be done properly, but this really needs sorting out. It’s getting ridiculous – it’s criminal damage.”

PCSO Gibson added: “We can’t tell someone to remove graffiti on their site – it’s down to the land or property owner.

“But it is criminal damage. We want people to report it early, and once it’s been reported we would like property owners to remove it.”

Members of the public can report graffiti to police by calling 101 or emailing 101@devonandcornwall.pnn.police.uk and quoting enquiry number en/003216/18.