Graffiti gangs targeting houses and small businesses are causing havoc across Brighton and Hove.

Churches and schools are other regular canvases for the ASBO artists targeting the city.

Residents in some areas are having to paint over graffiti tags on a weekly basis, while the city council is spending at least £30,000 a year on clean-up operations.

One householder, who lives close to Montpelier Terrace, contacted The Argus to talk of his nightmare at the hands of taggers.

The man, who asked not to be identified over fear of reprisals, said: “There is a gang that relentlessly targets houses and shops in this area.

"They come up from the seafront and make their way up through Western Road towards the station, spraying as they go.

“This is not harmless – they are scratching windows and daubing things on people’s homes."

“This is not art – it is not an expression of anything except stupidity.”

Sarah Leach, a graffiti officer for Brighton and Hove City Council, confirmed a graffiti gang was operating between the seafront and Brighton railway station.

She said: “I can’t explain why they are targeting this area at the moment but we are having to spend a lot of time here.

“Seven Dials was the worst area affected but the person behind that was caught and prosecuted."

The graffiti team is alerted to problem areas by a combination of reports from the public, staff and the observations of staff.

Police and councils are building up an evidence bank of graffiti tags.

Sergeant James Bowes, from the local neighbourhood policing team in Brighton and Hove, said: “Those previously caught tagging have been taken to court for committing criminal damage and have been ordered by the court to undertake unpaid work in their local community and to pay compensation to victims, which has been as much as £1,000.

“In other instances the victims have agreed to community resolution and the tagger has apologised and undertaken the difficult task of removing tags with the local authority's graffiti team so they understand the true consequences of their actions.”

Anyone who sees someone tagging should call Sussex Police on 101.

Read more on this story in the two-page special report inside today's Argus.

To report graffiti in Brighton and Hove go to www.brighton-hove.gov.uk

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