In an effort to tackle the rising issue of illegal graffiti in the city, the Madrid Municipal Police has recently introduced its Urban Heritage Protection Section (SEPROPUR). Comprising 39 dedicated agents, this specialized task force aims to investigate and address illegal graffiti crimes with the ultimate goal of reducing their prevalence in the urban environment.
Working in collaboration with the Urban Planning, Environment, and Mobility Area of the City of Madrid, as well as the Environmental Prosecutor’s Office, SEPROPUR is set to operate round the clock in shifts to ensure 24-hour coverage and protection for the city’s architectural heritage.
The anti-graffiti municipal police officers are tasked with conducting actions based on the assessment of the situation, creating risk maps of affected public spaces, and documenting the graffiti through photography. Following this, they analyze the damage and attempt to identify the perpetrators.
One notable aspect of SEPROPUR’s strategy involves photographing illegal street art throughout the city to establish a comprehensive database. This initiative aims to identify common patterns in terms of areas attracting graffiti artists and the distinctive authorship behind the murals and tags.
While many graffiti works may be anonymous, they often carry specific styles and signatures that can be identified through calligraphic expertise. Marisa Robles, commissioner of the Madrid Environment and Heritage Commission, emphasized the importance of distinguishing between vandalism and the works of established street artists who express social protest through their art.
In 2023 alone, the cleaning efforts targeted more than 560,000 square meters of urban space in Madrid, marking a significant increase of 70% compared to the previous year. The city’s focus remains on combatting vandalism, recognizing the challenges in differentiating between unauthorized graffiti and the expressions of social commentary by established street artists.