GRAFFITI – a foul scourge on society or a modern expressive art form?

We’ve been waiting a year for the Chislehurst Road bridge to reopen, and the ribbon was finally cut last Friday. But, within hours, someone has scrawled graffiti right across the brand new, shiny surface.

So, should we celebrate the wit required to come up with: “Don’t jump, life is so amazing”, or do we call for the immediate re-introduction of birching for anyone caught in the act?

You could argue that at least this comment has a relevance to the site where it has been scrawled. You could even make the case it is upbeat. Mind you, alongside this carefully scripted witticism was a far more mundane, and universal, graffiti offering — a crudely drawn penis.

So, should humour and artistic ability be celebrated, whilst those without talent, who tend to fall back upon obscenity, be roundly punished?

I strongly suspect there’s very little point even pondering the question as the chance of actually catching the nasty little scumbags is negligible.

And, if there is any inconsistency regarding graffiti ‘artists’ we’ve only got ourselves to blame. As soon as anyone labelled this criminal behaviour as an art form we were on the ugly, defaced road to ruin.

Even the authorities approach the problem in wildly different ways. Luckily responsibility for this bridge falls to Bromley Council, which has an avowed aim to remove graffiti within 24 hours of being informed about it. Network Rail’s view appears to be that, unless it’s offensive, they won’t even touch it.

Presumably if this little ‘artist’ wrote: “What a lovely looking bridge” on a new Network Rail structure it would stay for eternity.

What do you think? Is graffiti ever an art form or is it always just vandalism? How should people guilty of graffiti be punished? Who should pay for the removal of graffiti? Add your comments below.