Graffiti can be a particular concern in the inner cities. It can make neighbourhoods appear dirty and run down. Removing it is expensive. Back alleys, open spaces, underground tunnels, footbridges, council property and public walls and fences are all vulnerable to graffiti.
In England and Wales, graffiti is considered an act of criminal damage under the Criminal Damage Act 1971 and offenders can be punished with an unlimited fine.
In Scotland, graffiti is treated as an act of vandalism, and prosecuted under the Criminal Law (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 1995. The maximum fine is £10,000. A prison sentence of up to 3 months is also possible for a first offence, and of up to 6 months for any further offence.
Since 2004 it has been an offence for shop-keepers to sell spray-paint to under-16s. In England and Wales, the offence is under section 54 of the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003, with a maximum fine of £2500. The equivalent Scottish offence is under section 122 of the Antisocial Behaviour (Scotland) Act 2004, with a maximum fine of £1000.
Section 58 of the 2004 Act allows local councils (in Scotland only) to serve a graffiti removal notice on the owner, occupier or operator of whatever has been defaced, requiring them to clean it up within 28 days.
Visit the Law Search page for full details.