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King launches partnership to combat graffiti

King launches partnership strategy to combat graffiti


Justice Minister Annette King today launched a strategy at Parliament designed to combat graffiti crime in New Zealand.

The "Stop Tagging Our Place" (STOP) strategy will guide the work of agencies and groups involved in combating graffiti vandalism.

Ms King said today that central and local government, the non-government sector and utility companies all collaborated to produce the STOP Strategy, and all will continue to work in partnership on implementing the Strategy.

"The success this strategy achieves will be a reflection of their collective effort.

"Graffiti vandalism causes significant costs and other negative impacts in our communities," she said.

"Graffiti can lead to a perception that an area is out of control and rife with crime, leading to a feeling of insecurity in affected communities. Further, it can have links to gang territoriality and other forms of serious offending.

"To combat graffiti vandalism, it's vital that everyone in the community works together. The most effective campaigns will involve local councils, community organisations, businesses, schools, sports clubs and private individuals -– focusing on community engagement, ownership and action."

Ms King said the strategy launch coincides with the start tomorrow of Keep New Zealand Beautiful's Clean Up New Zealand Week, enhanced this year by the first Graffiti-Free Week.

Graffiti-Free Week focuses on removing graffiti and raising levels of community awareness and pride by instigating graffiti clean-ups.

Under the strategy, the Government is committing $6 million over three years to communities and local authorities to set up new or further develop existing anti-tagging and anti-graffiti activities. Such work can include innovative graffiti prevention and management initiatives, or enhancements to law enforcement activities.

Ms King said the strategy is a comprehensive response to reduce graffiti vandalism through prevention, management and law enforcement. "The Government believes the STOP Strategy will be a valuable framework in helping communities 'keep a lid' on the problem."

The strategy will be available from 4pm at www.justice.govt.nz/cpu

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Background information

• The STOP strategy builds on practical actions already developed by central and local government, communities and voluntary organisations. Various organisations contributed to the strategy, including Police, MSD, local government, Telecom, Keep NZ Beautiful, Housing NZ and Ontrack.

• The prevention section of the strategy focuses on how local communities can reduce the likelihood of graffiti vandalism. It encourages community ownership of initiatives that aim to change both public and offender attitudes to tagging so that it is seen as a serious crime; reduce the number of people engaging in graffiti vandalism; and contribute to developing a physical environment where graffiti vandalism cannot thrive.

• The management section provides information on how local authorities, community trusts, businesses, utility companies, volunteer groups and schools can analyse the scale and nature of graffiti and the best way to manage it.

• The enforcement section outlines law changes to strengthen the legal framework to address graffiti vandalism. It provides information on the legal framework, roles of the Police and local authorities, how offenders can be held to account and how reparation can be made to victims and the community.

• Changes to the law include several new graffiti vandalism-related provisions:

• A specific offence for graffiti vandalism with penalties of a community-based sentence or a fine up to $2000 or both. The option of a community sentence is designed to facilitate offenders actually cleaning graffiti vandalism from communities.

• A specific offence for possession of graffiti implements --- a person can be charged if they do not have a reasonable excuse for possessing an implement, in circumstances where it can reasonably be inferred that they intended to commit a graffiti offence.

• Prohibiting the sale of spray paint cans to people under 18 years of age to reduce access.

• Restricting access to spray paint cans in shops so the public cannot obtain them without the help of a shop employee, to reduce opportunistic theft.

• Graffiti vandalism offenders are most often teenagers, which is the reason for the age restriction for the sale of spray paint cans in the new legislation.

• The Government expects a community-based sentence (where the offender is involved in cleaning up graffiti) to be the most appropriate and effective penalty for many offenders.

• The legal framework for graffiti vandalism is not prescriptive around enforcement responsibilities. It enables local prioritisation, collaboration and enforcement alignment between the Police and local government agencies.


ENDS

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