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6 March 2020

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We’ve been targeted with graffiti and vandalism over the past two years. What steps can I take to avoid this happening in the future?

Our panel of leading practice managers discusses how to deal with challenging situations. Compiled by Kaye McIntosh

Steve Williams

As well as the effect on the practice, this also can have a negative impact on your patients. Where it has happened repeatedly, you need to act.

The most common type of graffiti is called tagging, where words or symbols are spray painted across a building. These usually represent an individual and are often used to mark territory, or in some cases, to invade another territory.

Find out from your local council what its policy is about graffiti. They may already have situations involving the same individuals. Offenders will look for areas where there is easy access and exit. If you have blank walls, consider using anti-graffiti paint or, if you have CCTV, putting up signage to say that the area is being monitored.

Graffiti and vandalism are criminal damage – contact your local police using 101. If they have similar instances elsewhere, it could help their enquiries.

Do not be afraid to take a tough stance on the issue and assist with any prosecution. The offenders could face fines or even imprisonment.

Tell your patient participation group (PPG) what you are doing to gain public support for your actions. If you do nothing, or simply prepare another blank canvas, you could well be targeted again.

Steve Williams is co-chair of the Practice Management Network

Michelle Barksby

Are there reasons the practice is repeatedly being targeted by graffiti and vandalism? Are these malicious attacks against the practice or is this perhaps due to the location?

If it’s in an inner city, perhaps this is part of a wider problem. In an isolated, rural location, are perpetrators less likely to be disturbed? Or is this perhaps just boredom from a small group? 

If you don’t have CCTV, consider working out the business impact, the inconvenience and additional work of repairing and cleaning up. Use this costing to offset the cost of a quotation for the installation of CCTV. Discuss with the GP partners and the practice team any other possible measures to enhance practice safety and security. 

It would be best to work with the practice PPG to encourage community involvement, and to work on having younger representatives in the PPG for possible increased vigilance and community oversight.

In situations where the vandalism and graffiti are taking place in the same area, one option could be to consider working with local schools to create a mural or a community garden to enhance community buy-in to the space and encourage enhanced vigilance and collective pride.

Reporting incidents to the police when they occur should be standard, especially when you need to make insurance claims and require a crime number. Involving local police or police community support offices in community engagement could be beneficial too.

Michelle Barksby is practice manager at Sherwood Medical Partnership, Nottinghamshire

Nick Nurden

There is clearly a balance here. We don’t want our buildings to look and feel like they are in a war zone, but the hassle and cost of constant repairs is a significant issue. It depends on the nature of your buildings and location. If it’s possible to fence off the external boundary of the property, then this will clearly help – there are some very good anti-climb fences available now.

Other options would be to install shutters on the windows and doors, though these can be hard to retrofit to existing buildings. In some cases, you may be able to use different materials such as Perspex, or others that are more resistant or easily cleaned.

If the issue is lead being stolen from the roof, there are now some very good alternatives that don’t have the same scrap value.

One other approach is to engage the community. Involve your patient group or others. If there is the right community resource available, it may be that some form of activity or support could be put in place so the perpetrators have something more meaningful to do with their time than vandalism.

Nick Nurden is business manager at The Ridge practice, West Yorkshire