Shop staff charged with selling spray cans to kids

TWO shopworkers are facing criminal charges for selling spray paint to children amid a city-wide crackdown on graffiti.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 14th September 2011, 6:16 pm

The staff, aged 28 and 32, are believed to be the first in Edinburgh to be caught under new antisocial behaviour laws forbidding the sale of spray cans to underage youths.

It is alleged they sold the spray paint to children aged 13 and 15 and were charged following tip-offs to police.

A drive to stamp out illegal graffiti has seen officers pore over distinctive ‘tags’ daubed by vandals to identify their work – with four people facing court action as a result. Other suspects are still under investigation.

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Sergeant Simon Acheson, of the police’s safer neighbourhood team, said the new legislation provided a “different angle” from which to tackle graffiti.

“It’s traditionally a difficult one to get sufficient evidence to report people to the procurator fiscal,” he said. “And we have made a concerted effort to bring charges.

“I’m not aware of any others that have been prosecuted under this legislation. It highlights the fact that we are willing to try to use the legislation to try to prevent graffiti in the first place.

“Hopefully, the message will soon get to shop owners that they need to be more careful about who they sell these items to.”

Mr Acheson added that charges were brought against the shopworkers through information received from the local community rather than from a test-purchase operation.

After further public liaison, police have now singled out Bread Street as a hotspot for antisocial behaviour and have today launched a community clean-up day in partnership with the city council.

Three officers will join staff from the council’s Neighbourhood Team to remove graffiti from the area with the help of Prince’s Trust volunteers.

Sgt Acheson said: “Graffiti in the city centre does affect people’s quality of life and there’s a theory that it can become a vicious circle and bring down the character of the area. Sometimes people think ‘if the place is an eyesore already, I’ll just dump my rubbish here as well’.

“Once graffiti appears chances are more will then appear and the character of an area can change.”

He added: “The clean-up day is an excellent opportunity for the community to unite and improve their local surroundings. We are extremely grateful to all those who have agreed to participate and anyone else wanting to pitch in is welcome to come along.

Councillor Paul Edie, community safety leader at Edinburgh City Council said: “Graffiti often blights the lives of local people and the clean-up day is a great way of getting everyone together to improve the neighbourhood.

“The community has identified graffiti as an issue and I am sure today’s action will make a real difference to the area.”