Vandalism is a crime that damages peoples quality of life and costs communities millions to repair. Its easy to dismiss it as a minor offence, but it has a big impact on neighbourhoods. Find out what it is and how to report it.
What is vandalism?
Vandalism is any deliberate damage done to someone elses property.
- painting graffiti
- dumping rubbish
- setting small fires
- smashing windows
- damaging buildings or other structures
- scratching car paint
The effects of vandalism
Vandalism can hurt peoples quality of life because it damages or destroys things that they need or care about.
- makes people feel that their lives are less safe than they really are
- can be dangerous people have died when acts of vandalism went too far, or got out of control
- costs you money you pay for vandalism repair through higher taxes and insurance payments
If you notice that property has been vandalised, you should contact your local council to report it.
If you see someone in the act of vandalising property, you should contact your local police force or your local neighbourhood policing team.
If youre on public transportation and you see somebody vandalising your bus or train, call the train company and let them know. You can also call the Transport Police if youre in a major city, such as London.
If you think that what youve seen could be dangerous (such as someone setting fires), or you feel personally threatened, please call 999.
- Find a police force, neighbourhood policing team or police authority
Punishments for vandalism
The punishment given to vandals depends on how seriously theyve damaged property.
Most vandalism offences are fairly minor, and those are usually dealt with by a Magistrates Court. The penalty will depend on how much damage there was, how much it cost to repair and how much trouble it caused.
If the value of the damage is more than 5,000, the maximum penalty is six months in jail and a 5,000 fine. If the damage is less than 5,000, the maximum penalty is three months in jail or a fine of 2,500.
Police and local authorities can also decide to issue vandals with penalty notices. For children under 16 years old, this results in on-the-spot fines of 50. For those 16 and over it results in an 80 fine.
More serious acts of vandalism that damage or threaten lives can result in substantial sentences. The maximum sentence for someone who has set arson fires that threatened the life of another person is life in prison.
- Anti-social behaviour
More useful links
- Getting graffiti and flyposters removed
- Bonfires and the law
- Fly-tipping - what you can do
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