As a member of a community council in the south-west of Edinburgh (UK), I have tried over many years to get graffiti removed and also to get local police to investigate. This has not always proved successful.
The local council will remove graffiti from their property and I’ve had some success with Openreach and Network Rail. Until February 2016, I had cooperation from Virgin Media’s Cabinet and Plant Maintenance department in Birmingham. They would remove graffiti, mainly by repainting the cabinets in their corporate colour (grey; often the cabinets had previously been painted green).
Then, on 13 February, responses ceased. I tried emailing Virgin Media’s CEO Tom Mockridge, but got no reply. In desperation, I even emailed Sir Richard Branson, the CEO of the Virgin Group but that also got no response. Eventually, I took to Twitter and tweeted to @virginmedia. This got replies on twitter but no action, even after I had reported 3 examples as a test via Virgin Media’s own website, which recognises graffiti as damage to a cabinet. I was asked to give details of the cabinets affected, but after I did so, nothing changed except one day when I found a workman from the John Henry Group working nearby on one of 4 VM cabinets. Evidently VM contracts some maintenance to this company. He was repairing a lock on one cabinet, but, when asked, said that he would repaint them grey (only one was grey but they all had non-tag graffiti on them). He also knew about some other cabinets in the area that had graffiti on them and were still green. He did indeed paint the cabinets grey but did not touch any others. I concluded that he had not been sent to paint over the graffiti but to mend the lock and that he may have been told to repaint the cabinets while he was there.
That is how things stand to this day: some VM cabinets grey, some still green, most with graffiti of one sort or another on them. I am unable to get any further action on the matter. Of course, one only knows that these cabinets belong to Virgin Media by their colour or having had them identified in the past. All VM cabinets have a double-pitched top (i.e. not flat, but then so do those of Openreach), but no identification of any sort. Perhaps VM do not care about their public image or hope that no one will associate them with these disgraceful cabinets. They cannot even be bothered to paint all their cabinets the same colour.
I had no better results with Edinburgh police, who evidently did not want to be bothered with trivial vandalism. One can report the crime via 101 but they always want to know if you saw the graffiti being applied and/or if it is on one’s own property. When they find that that neither apply, they lose interest and just log it. Before the creation of Police Scotland, Lothian & Borders Police used to take more interest, keeping a database of graffiti tags and alerting other officers to the crime. I think in one case, someone was arrested and charged.
British Transport Police have been more accommodating and do record graffiti. But it had no better results.
It is all very frustrating and is allowing graffiti artists to get away with their anti-social behaviour.
Getting no sense from VM, I spray-painted over graffiti on 5 of their street cabinets in my area. I told them in advance, asking permission, and afterwards. I got no response in either case.