Graffiti

What is graffiti?

Graffiti is writing, drawing, marking, scratching or etching any space (for example, a building, a pole or a vehicle).

Is graffiti illegal?

There are ways to create graffiti legally. For example, if you have the consent of the owner or it is a space designated as a legal graffiti space.  Check with your local council about these spaces.

If you don’t have the permission of the owner or your local council, it is against the law to create graffiti on a person’s property or public property, or on something that is visible to the public. 

Can I buy a graffiti tool?

If you are under 18, it is against the law for someone to sell you a graffiti tool. If they do, they could be fined.  A shop assistant can ask you to prove you are over 18 if you want to buy a graffiti tool. If you cannot prove you are over 18, the shop assistant may refuse to sell you the graffiti tool.

What is a graffiti tool?

A graffiti tool is spray paint or certain marker pens, including permanent markers with a tip over 6mm wide.

Can I carry a graffiti tool?

It is against the law for you to be carrying anything that you want to use to make illegal graffiti. This could be a marker pen or spray paint, but could also be things like a pocket knife or a nail.

Can I be stopped and searched for graffiti tools?

Yes, but only in certain circumstances. For example, if the police think that you are carrying something that is related to illegal activity, like illegal graffiti. For more information about Police searches see, “What powers do the police have”.

 

Can the police confiscate something they think I will use to make graffiti?

Yes. The police may take your spray paint, marker pen or another tool if they think you have used it to do illegal graffiti or will use it to do illegal graffiti.

What happens if I’ve been caught by the police doing illegal graffiti or illegally carrying a tool for graffiti?

Depending on the circumstances, if you are under 18 the police may:

·         Give you a caution;

·         Confiscate the tool for graffiti;

·         Charge you. This means you will have to go to court.

For more information about warnings, cautions, youth justice conferences and being charged with an offence, see our pages “Youth Justice” and “Criminal Law”.

What are the penalties for graffiti crimes?

If you are under 18 and are charged with making illegal graffiti or illegally carrying a graffiti tool, and are then found guilty at court, then depending on the case a court can:

  • Put you on a good behaviour bond - this means you get no punishment. However, if you commit another crime within one year you will get a much worse punishment.


  • Make a responsible adult give security money and promise to make sure that you won’t commit another offence for one year.


  • Give you a community work order - this may include making you remove the graffiti.


  • Order you to pay compensation or pay for the cost of the graffiti removal.


  • Give you a fine. The amount of the fine will depend on the circumstances. You will only be given a fine if you (or your guardians) can afford to pay it.
You may also be given a combination of punishments - such as a fine and a community work order.

For more information about these penalties, see “Youth Justice System”.

For more information about going to court, see “Courtstuff.”

 

 This information was last updated 10 July 2013.