Duncan's blog

March 22, 2009

We’re intimidating benefit ‘thieves’, with graffiti

We're closing in on benefit thieves

I saw the above recently on Broughton Street in Edinburgh. This is known as “clean graffiti” or “reverse graffiti”, and involves using a power washer to clean off grime and dirt, leaving behind clean patches that reveal some graffiti. In this case, a stencil would have been used. The main proponent of this form of graffiti in the UK is Paul Curtis, aka Moose, and his commercial clients include Big Brother, Xbox, the Metropolitan Police and Greenpeace.

The example above is also one of his designs, and is part of a campaign against benefit cheats by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).

It’s quite controversial for two reasons:

  1. It’s using a form of graffiti, which is always going to attract criticism from certain sectors, despite in this case actually cleaning away dirt rather than using paint
  2. It’s directly targeting groups of people, in the places they live, work and shop.

There was an article in the Scotsman last October complaining that this campaign was wrongly targeting residential property in Inverleith. Apparently the DWP had pre-agreed all sites with the council, and none should have been outside residential property.

After I saw this one on Broughton Street, quite clearly in front of the entrance to some flats, I put in a Freedom of Information request through the WhatDoTheyKnow.com site, to find out what other sites in Edinburgh had been hit by this campaign.

The Scotsman article quotes a DWP spokeswoman stating that 30 sites were agreed, but the response from Edinburgh City Council confirms it was really 36.

  1. Waverley Steps – Waverley Station
  2. Waverley Steps – Princes Mall
  3. North Bridge / Waterloo Place – Waverley Gate Building –
  4. Broughton Street – Baroque Bar
  5. Broughton Street – Real Food Store
  6. Broughton Street – Ladbrokes
  7. Broughton Street – Chip Shop
  8. Broughton Lane – Mathers Bar
  9. Eyre Place – Pavement near Esso Station
  10. Inverleith Row – Bookmakers
  11. Inverleith Row – Goldenacre Mini Market
  12. Inverleith Row – Victoria Wine
  13. Ferry Road / Pilton Drive – Morrisons Supermarket
  14. Dalry Road – Lidl Car Park
  15. Haymarket Station – Outside Starbucks
  16. Clifton Terrace – Outside Social Security Office
  17. Richmond Terrace – Dalry Road – next to many charity shops
  18. Caledonian Road / Dalry Road – Apple Pharmacy
  19. West Tollcross – Ignite Club
  20. West Tollcross – Wall outside of Ignite
  21. Dundee Terrace – outside newsagent and post office
  22. Dundee Street – Fountain Park Cinema Complex
  23. Gorgie Road – Opposite Station Tavern under rail bridge
  24. Gorgie Road – William Hill
  25. Stewart Terrace / Gorgie Road – Blockbuster Video
  26. Tynecastle – Heart of Midlothian Football Stadium
  27. Montague Street – The Malthurst Pub
  28. Clerk Street / Rankeillor Street – Chapman Chemist
  29. Rankeillor Street – Thresher Wine
  30. George IV Bridge – Pizza Shop
  31. Merchant Street – Under the Stairs Bar
  32. Cowgate – Three Sisters
  33. Tron Square
  34. Blair Street – City Café
  35. South Bridge – Flight Centre
  36. Stairs from South Bridge to train station – past the Scotsman Newspaper building

The photo above must be the Broughton Street – Real Food Store site; Real Foods is next door to number 35. How many of the other locations also target private residential properties? The council has since removed the DWP adverts at the Goldenacre Mini Market on Inverleith Row and the Malthurst Pub on Montague Street, but how many still remain visible, wrongly intimidating law-abiding residents?

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1 Comment »

  1. […] Duncan takes a look at reverse graffiti, which may suggest that Government condemnation of the vandalism […]

    Pingback by Just when you thought you knew what was going on… - Scottish Roundup — March 29, 2009 @ 3:54 pm | Reply


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