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The City of Fremantle last night approved its controversial graffiti policy, whereby graffiti which is deemed to have artistic or cultural merit will not be removed by the council.

WA police urged the council to reconsider its policy at the weekend stating it would lead to increased vandalism and other crime in the area but all but one Fremantle councillor voted in favour of the proposal at the council meeting last night.

The new policy, which comes into affect today, gives city officials the power to retain pieces of graffiti or street art, which would otherwise be removed.

Fremantle mayor Brad Pettitt said the policy was not about encouraging graffiti in the city but about being smart about removal.

He said the city spent nearly $300,000 a year removing graffiti and the new policy would allow them to focus their energies on removing "bad" graffiti as opposed to "good" graffiti or street art.

"I think we need to be mature about this and acknowledge that some graffiti has merit and can add to the vibrancy of the city," he said.

"While other things like tags need to be and will be removed

"It's about using the resources we have in a smarter way."

He said in Melbourne and some European cities street art had become a tourist attraction.

In the case where the graffiti is on private property, the owner will still have the right to ask for removal.