A mural that was painted to stop graffiti and ease fear of crime has been vandalised.
The underwater-themed artwork was created along a large wall in Dickerage Recreation Ground in New Malden to cover up graffiti, which police said was an eyesore and caused fear of crime.
Offenders within the Community Payback scheme painted the mural in July this year with the help of Coombe Vale Police safer neighbourhood team (SNT), Kingston Council and sponsors Vauxhall car dealers.
Police hoped the new mural would give residents a greater sense of pride and confidence in their community.
But just a week later graffiti reappeared and vandals returned in September to cover over it on a larger scale.
Sergeant Peter Baggs from Coombe Vale SNT said the team were very disappointed the mural was vandalised and are looking to find the offenders.
He said: “Those responsible have destroyed something of benefit to the community, including families and children.
“It portrays a message – incorrectly – that community engagement is not important and that people do not take pride in their area, which is not the case.”
Police and the council are now considering installing CCTV in the area and are looking to have the wall repainted, potentially by a local art college.
Police would like to hear from anyone who knows the identity of those responsible.
Call Coombe Vale SNT on 020 8721 2515 or email email@example.com with information.
Alternatively contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
IS GRAFFITI ART OR VANDALISM?
David Cameron poses in front of it and Banksy makes thousands of pounds from it, but is graffiti art or vandalism?
Kingston artist Patrick Blower said: “Context is everything. I think graffiti that destroys a piece of commissioned work is irresponsible.
“But it can look beautiful in the right environment. It all depends on the spirit in which it’s done.”
Graffiti Kings is a professional graffiti and street art design company that hires out artists to create work for their clients, who include Microsoft, BBC and Calvin Klein.
Owner Darren Cullen said: "It depends on how it’s used and where it’s done. It is people expressing themselves but it’s still a crime if they choose to do it somewhere illegal, there is no getting
away from that.
"But most people in it are now into it for the artistic side of it. The vandals are getting less and less, now it’s just a handful – it used to be hundreds."
Mr Cullen said graffiti art is being sold for anything from £100 to £500,000 at the moment.
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