Graffiti vandalism: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002

Information requested

1. When the Scottish legislation makers permitted the local authority not to resolve graffiti vandalism?

2. When the Scottish legislation makers permitted the Police Scotland teams not to respond to graffiti vandalism?

3. What the Scottish legislation makers created to ensure Graffiti vandalism incidents reported with evidence would be resolved?

4. To ask if there is any legislation in Scotland which permits universities to not respond to concern raisers?

5. To ask if there is any Scottish legislation that permits universities to respond to incidents where their Students are based either temporarily or long term IE specially regarding Environmental Standards and Quality of Life for Students and Public and Private landlords IE waste management issues and graffiti acts of criminal vandalism?


Questions 1 and 2

The Scottish Government does not have the information you have asked for because the Scottish Government has not made such an instruction.

This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested.

Question 3

Local authorities are responsible for removing graffiti from council premises and there is no statutory requirement for the owner of private land to remove graffiti.

The Antisocial Behaviour etc. (Scotland) Act 2004 (the 2004 Act), empowers local authorities to serve a ‘graffiti removal notice’ on a person responsible for a relevant surface in that local authority’s area where that surface has been defaced by graffiti and that graffiti is either offensive or detrimental to the amenity of the locality requiring them to remove the graffiti within a specified time of at least 28 days.

The legislation also allows that where a person fails to comply with a graffiti removal notice, the local authority may remove the graffiti from the property themselves, may enter any land reasonably necessary for that purpose and may recover any costs incurred in doing so from the person on whom the graffiti removal notice was served.

At the time of the legislation there was consideration given to whether the provisions of the 2004 Act should be extended to enable local authorities to also require the removal of graffiti from private property. Ministers did not think it appropriate to extend local authorities’ powers in this way. There was a concern that, by allowing local authorities to require owners of all private property to remove graffiti or to pay the local authority to do so, was not in keeping with the “polluter pays” principle, in that the victim of the graffiti attack would be made to pay for its removal, which can be considerable. This would be particularly problematic and costly where a property is persistently defaced by graffiti, which may be targeted at the property’s owner. It was also felt that because graffiti on private housing may adversely affect the quality of life of the occupier, and graffiti on private business premises may damage that business, there would be more of an incentive for owners to remove graffiti from such property than from, for example, street furniture.

While the 2004 Act does not empower local authorities to issue graffiti removal notices to the owners of private housing, business premises or other surfaces not covered by the 2004 Act, there is nothing to stop local authorities from removing such graffiti providing they have the permission of the owner to do so. However the extent to which they do so, and whether they charge for such a service, is a matter for individual local authorities.

In considering this it is likely that a number of factors will come into consideration such as the extent to which graffiti is a problem in a particular local authority area, whether the graffiti is regarded as offensive or detrimental to the amenity of the area, the type of surface affected and the likelihood of graffiti reappearing as soon as the surface is cleaned. It is, of course, for individual local authorities to determine their own policy and priorities for expenditure in this regard. Ministers recognise that, as elected bodies, local authorities should be accountable, first and foremost, to local people and it is up to each local authority therefore to justify to its electorate its own policy and expenditure decisions, including the extent to which they provide services to remove graffiti.

The Antisocial Behaviour etc. (Scotland) Act 2004 also enables the police to issue on-the-spot fixed penalties (£40) to people suspected of low-level statutory vandalism offences, such as graffiti.

Under the vandalism provisions contained in the Criminal Law (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 1995, any person who, without reasonable excuse, wilfully or recklessly destroys or damages any property belonging to another shall be guilty of the offence of vandalism and on summary conviction in the:-

  • justice of the peace court is liable for a fine up to £1,000 and/or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 60 days.
  • sheriff court is liable for a first such offence, for a fine up to £5,000 and/or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 3 months; and for any subsequent such offence, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months, and/or to the fine of up to £5,000.

The Procurator Fiscal after considering the case, in particular the seriousness of the offence, will determine in which court the case will be heard.

The Scottish Government supports local authorities, police, prosecutors and the courts having appropriate powers in this area and supports use of these powers in dealing with incidents that arise if these independent agencies considered it was necessary in any given case.

Questions 4 and 5

There is no legislation governing how universities respond to the raising of such concerns. However, each university should have its own procedures on handling the raising of such concerns by members of the public; and for further dealing with these concerns, where correspondents are dissatisfied with the initial response.

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Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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