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You must combine the basic facts provided above with a more specific understanding of your local problem. Analyzing the local problem helps in designing a more effective response strategy.
The following are some critical questions you should ask in analyzing your particular problem of graffiti, even if the answers are not always readily available. If you fail to answer these questions, you may select the wrong response.
See Otto, Maly and Schismenos (2000) for more information about this technology, as used in Akron, Ohio.
Maps of graffiti have been used to map gang violence and gang territory. See, for example, Kennedy, Braga and Piehl (1997) [PDF].
Photographs of offenders and their address information can also be linked to maps.
Police in some cities have posed as film crews, interviewing taggers about their practices.
Research shows that graffiti can be substantially reduced, and sometimes eliminated. The following are potentially useful measures of the effectiveness of responses to graffiti. To track possible displacement, such measures should be routine:
Some jurisdictions track the numbers of arrests made, gallons of paint applied or square feet covered, amount of graffiti removed, or money spent on graffiti eradication;14 these measures indicate how much effort has been put into the antigraffiti initiative, but they do not tell you if the amount or nature of graffiti has changed in any way. You should choose measures based on the responses chosen; for example, if paint sales are limited, you should place more emphasis on tracking the type of graffiti tool used. Tools do change; for example, some offenders have begun using glass etching fluid.
Because many anti-graffiti strategies are quite expensive, a costbenefit analysis will provide a baseline measure of benefits associated with specific costs of different strategies.
It is widely believed that graffiti is easily displaced, but evidence of such displacement is scant. The notion that graffiti is an intractable problem that is easily displaced has been fueled by haphazard and piecemeal crime prevention measures.15 Useful measures of graffiti will assess the extent to which graffiti is reduced or moved to different locations, or reflect a change in offenders' tactics. While graffiti offenders can be persistent and adaptive, there is no reason to assume that displacement will be complete; indeed, successful responses may have a widespread effect.
The response to graffiti in the New York subway system resulted in some reported displacement to buses, garbage trucks, walls, and other objects in the city (Butterfield 1988; Coffield 1991).
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