Graffiti to be removed from popular Commons landmark

AGGED: The graffiti on Wellington Rocks

A graffiti vandal has been ordered to clean up a much-loved natural landmark during the latest enforcement action by Kent Police, which is aimed at tackling anti-social behaviour in Tunbridge Wells.

As previously reported in the Times (September 27), residents across the town had raised concerns over a rise in graffiti, particularly about the ‘tagging’ of Wellington Rocks.

A 31-year-old man, who was arrested after local patrols caught him spray-painting an area of Wellington Rocks on Tunbridge Wells Common, has been ordered to remove the damage.

District Commander for Tunbridge Wells, Chief Inspector Stuart Paul, said: “While 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.

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; while 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.”

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