Issued: Thursday, 16 October 2014
Police will be given up to two years to catch graffiti vandals under changes to graffiti laws, Attorney General Brad Hazzard announced today.
"Increasingly, offenders are recording their graffiti crimes on smart phones so they can brag to mates or gain notoriety by posting the clip on YouTube," Mr Hazzard said.
"Often these records aren't discovered until some time after the offence has been committed, but existing laws prevent police from charging a vandal with a specific graffiti offence if the incident happened more than six months ago."
Mr Hazzard said extending the time limit to two years would encourage police to charge more offenders with specific graffiti offences, which can result in an order for community clean-up work as part of their sentence.
"We want to see more offenders involved in graffiti removal so they realise the impact of their senseless and destructive behaviour," Mr Hazzard said.
Mr Hazzard said the six-month cut off may have resulted in some graffiti offenders being charged under the Crimes Act 1900 with the more serious offence of destroy or damage property, which has no time restrictions.
"The maximum penalty for a first time offender charged with destroy or damage property is five years' jail - or six years if committed in company - which is not appropriate for a young graffiti offender," Mr Hazzard said.
"Whereas first time offenders convicted of a specific graffiti offence face a $440 fine or if the offence has an aggravating feature up to 12 months' jail and a $2200 fine.
"The NSW Government wants to see all graffiti offences dealt with under the one piece of legislation – the Graffiti Control Act 2008.
"This will be simpler for police and will enable the courts to give graffiti vandals more practical, meaningful and effective sentences."
Mr Hazzard said communities could also play a part in the fight against graffiti by volunteering for Graffiti Removal Day on Sunday, October 26 (www.graffitiremovalday.org.au) or making a submission to a review of bill poster laws.
"The review is looking at whether companies should be prosecuted for profiting from bill posters being plastered illegally on locations such as building sites and power poles," Mr Hazzard said.
To make a submission to the bill posters review, visit www.justice.nsw.gov.au.