Graffiti vandal ordered to remove damage to popular Tunbridge Wells landmark
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A graffiti vandal has been ordered to clean up a much-loved natural landmark during the latest enforcement action aimed at tackling anti-social behaviour in Tunbridge Wells.
The 31-year-old man was arrested after local patrols caught him spray-painting an area of Wellington Rocks, in Tunbridge Wells Common.
The offender had travelled by train from his home in London on 11 June 2023, but was arrested with a rucksack containing several spray cans.
He claimed he was unaware of the landmark’s local significance and importance to the town and said he had sprayed the graffiti in memory of a friend.
District Commander for Tunbridge Wells, Chief Inspector Stuart Paul, said: ‘Whilst criminal damage is never acceptable, the offender appears to have expressed genuine remorse, and after discussing the matter with those who manage the land, he was made the subject of a conditional caution. 'This required him to complete reparation work under instructions from a park ranger, and he has also had to write a letter of apology.’
Over the past year, there has been an increased focus on tackling anti-social behaviour in Tunbridge Wells.
This has included enhanced patrols aimed at deterring and reducing offences which include shop thefts, assaults, and criminal damage.
Enforcement and increased charge rate
This enforcement action has seen charge rates rise for several offences linked to anti-social behaviour.
Between October 2022 and September 2023, there were 49 charges made for criminal damage, compared to 27 in the previous corresponding period - a rise of more than 80 per cent.
Charges relating to offences involving the use of violence have also increased, to 230 from 204; whilst at the same time, the number of reported incidents involving the use of violence in the borough has fallen.
Tackling shoplifting also remains a key target for officers in Tunbridge Wells, as well as in surrounding areas including Paddock Wood.
During 2022 and 2023, the detection rate for shoplifting offences increased by 35 per cent, (from 174 to 236) compared to the previous period. Charges also rose, from 132 to 180.
Chief Inspector Paul added: ’Anti-social behaviour can lead to thefts, assaults, and mindless damage to property. 'We are more than aware of several concerns raised by residents and businesses over the past year, many of which we believe are related to a small minority of young and often juvenile offenders. We know who most of them are and have been working hard to ensure that positive and robust action is taken. 'These issues, however, are not a problem that police can solve alone, which is why we are grateful for the continued support from our partner agencies including social services and housing teams, schools, local councils and the Kent and Medway Violence Reduction Unit. ‘Our officers and PCSOs will continue to patrol local parks, streets and known anti-social behaviour hotspots and we also continue to urge residents to report any incidents to us. This is so important, as it helps build an accurate picture of where there may be persistent problems’.