Graffiti or ‘tagging’ is a form of vandalism. Most people see graffiti as an eyesore and its presence increases people’s fears that other crime is common in the area.
Defacing property with graffiti is anti-social behaviour and punishable by law.
Graffiti as a crime
As a crime, graffiti is the damage to property caused by:
- spraying, writing, drawing, marking or applying paint or another marking substance to a person’s property without their consent
- scratching or etching a person’s property without their consent—the word graffiti is actually derived from the Italian word for scratched.
The penalty for defacing property
If you deface property with graffiti you can be charged with willful damage which is punishable with 5 years in prison.
It is also an offence to possess an aerosol spray, marker or other instrument which:
- is being used for graffiti
- is suspected of having been used for graffiti
- may be about to be used for graffiti.
This carries a maximum penalty of 20 penalty units ($2611) or 1 year in prison.
Graffiti removal programs
Young graffiti vandals can be ordered by the court to attend a graffiti removal program. This is a mandatory sentence for 12-18 year old graffiti offenders found guilty or pleading guilty to a graffiti offence. Some young offenders may also be sent on a graffiti removal program as an alternative to being charged and going to court.
Graffiti removal programs are a way young graffiti vandals are made accountable for their behaviour by doing unpaid work in the community removing graffiti. It provides them with a direct consequence for their offending.
Find out more about graffiti removal programs.
Quickly removing graffiti is the most effective way to tackle the problem. Removing it quickly reduces the recognition that graffiti vandals want. It also shows that the affected area is being monitored and looked after; this deters other graffiti vandals defacing property in the area.
In response to growing public concern about graffiti, in 2008 the state government introduced specific legislation giving government and local councils in Queensland the power to rapidly remove graffiti, particularly offensive graffiti, from anywhere—including private property—where it is visible to the public. The exception is graffiti on privately owned property done with the owner’s consent.
If the government or local council choose to remove graffiti from your property there will be no charge for this service.
Removing graffiti from private property
If your property is defaced by graffiti it is your responsibility—as the owner or occupier of the property—to remove it. That includes residential, commercial and industrial property.
It is best to remove it as soon a possible.
If your local council receives complaints about graffiti on your property they can request that you remove it within an agreed time frame.
Your council may be able to provide help—such as giving you a graffiti removal kit—to do this; some may even remove the graffiti for you free of charge.
Report graffiti vandals
If you see someone vandalising property with graffiti you should contact the Queensland Police Service immediately on 131 444.
You can also report it via the Tag them back graffiti hotline or using the online Crime Stoppers form; you can also do this anonymously.
Tag them back - graffiti hotline
Tag them back is a joint initiative between Crime Stoppers, Queensland Rail and the Brisbane Council to stop graffiti vandals.
You can report graffiti vandals by calling the hotline on 1800 333 000 or you can give information anonymously online through Crime Stoppers.