Graffiti Vandals should repay their debt to society, says Local MLA

South Perth MLA John McGrath has supported the Government’s initiative to crack down on graffiti vandals and has suggested that a HECS-type scheme be considered to recoup the cost of damage caused by some of these vandals.

Speaking to the Criminal code amendment (graffiti) bill in Parliament this week, Mr McGrath said: “A HECS-type system could be introduced for young people who are convicted of a graffiti offence and cannot pay the fine themselves, or whose parents are unable to pay the fine.”

“Under such a scheme, offenders would be required to pay back the debt once they become employed, similar to the operation of the Higher Education Contribution Scheme.

“As well as serving as a reminder to those young people that they have to repay a debt to society brought about by their actions, the scheme would assist local government to recover the cost of cleaning up graffiti in our community.”

Mr McGrath told Parliament that graffiti cleanup had cost the state about $30m a year, with $15m to $20m being spent by local government.

“Last year the City of South Perth spent $57,000 cleaning up graffiti,” he said.

Mr McGrath said the Government should make greater use of CCTV in its fight against graffiti.

“CCTV could be used in areas that are frequently targeted,” he said. “They could be put in positions where they couldn’t be interfered with.”

Mr McGrath also recommended implementation of a successful program being used in New York, where a data base of graffiti tags is kept by police. “A tag is like a signature,” he said. “Many of these graffiti artists will do it the same way every time. It means if there is a database with those tags, police will have a better means of catching offenders.”

The bill, which is expected to pass through the Legislative Assembly this week, creates a new criminal offence and penalty for a person who sells a graffiti implement to a child.

It also doubles the penalty for graffiti offenders to a maximum of two years imprisonment and a fine of $24,000.

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