Writing graffiti is an offence under the Criminal Damage Act 1971. Where the value of the damage is below £5000 the offender will be tried in a magistrates' court. The offender will then be subject to a maximum sentence of three months imprisonment or a £5,000 fine. If the value of the damage is above £5,000 the offender will be tried in a Crown Court and be subject to a maximum of 10 years imprisonment or an unlimited fine. At either court, community punishment is available for use where the court considers that the offence merits more than a fine but is not sufficiently serious to warrant imprisonment.
In addition the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 provides for local authorities to issue Fixed Penalty Notices for graffiti and fly posting. This power will be brought into force in March. Offenders will have to pay a £50 penalty or be prosecuted through the courts. Councils already have similar powers to tackle littering and dog fouling.