Graffiti and the law

Graffiti and fly-posters attached to your property are criminal damage and should be reported to the police. 

Penalties for graffiti

If the value of criminal damage exceeds £5,000 the maximum penalty for those aged 18 or over is ten years imprisonment and for those aged 12-17 years the maximum custodial penalty is a detention and training order of up to 24 months. Where the damage is less than £5,000 the maximum sentence is three months imprisonment or a fine of £2,500 for adult offenders.

An alternative sanction for minor graffiti offences is the issue of a penalty notice. Under the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003 Police Community Support Officers and those persons accredited under the community safety scheme are allowed to issue penalty notices of £50.

Information sharing

Schemes like the recent Home Office 'Name That Tag' offer a reward for information on prolific graffiti writers. 

Visit the Home Office website for more information.

The British Transport Police also run an information sharing database of tags which can be accessed by Local Authorities. This database enables the full extent of the damage caused by graffiti to be collated and taken into account by the court in sentencing.

Graffiti removal notices

Section 48 of the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003 gives local authorities the power to serve graffiti removal notices on certain bodies responsible for the surface where graffiti has appeared. These bodies include the owners of street furniture (bus shelters, street signs, phone boxes etc). The notice gives a minimum of 28 days for the removal of the graffiti, if after that time it has not been removed the local authority can remove it and can recover its costs.

Penalties for fly-posting

Fly-posting is the posting of stickers, posters and other advertising without the consent of the owner of the property. Street furniture in particular is afflicted.

Fly-posting is an offence under section 224(3) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 and the Highways Act 1980 making it a criminal offence to display an advertisement in contravention of regulations. Advertisers can be fined up to £2,500 on conviction for this offence and in the case of a continuing offence £250 per day after a conviction.

The Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003 allows Police Community Support Officers and those persons accredited under the community safety scheme to issue penalty notices to the individual who physically puts the fly-poster up (rather than the advertised business).

Last updated: 29 November 2019