Bill steps up graffiti fight in City of Bayswater

Councillor Chris Cornish demonstrates the ReportIT app. Picture: Della Cornish
Councillor Chris Cornish demonstrates the ReportIT app. Picture: Della Cornish

GRAFFITI is a mindless, intimidatory form of visual pollution that should be removed quickly, City of Bayswater Councillor Chris Cornish says.

After putting forward a motion to the council this year to establish |ReportIT, an app to enable the community to use smartphones to report graffiti to the city, Cr Cornish welcomed endeavours to crack down on the crime.

The State Government this month introduced into Parliament the Graffiti Vandalism Bill, which will increase the maximum penalty of vandalising property with graffiti to a $24,000 fine and two years in prison.

The Bill includes mandatory clean-up orders for convicted vandals, confiscation of property (smartphones and laptops used to record and transmit graffiti vandalism) and strengthened local government powers to enter private property to remove graffiti.

In 2014-15 there were 3341 incidents of removed graffiti within the City of Bayswater at a total cost of $209,344.

Cr Cornish said a critical component in tackling graffiti was the quick removal of it.

“The ReportIT app will enable the community to quickly and easily inform the city about any graffiti they see and this will greatly assist in the rapid clean-up,” he said.

“It will also give a better indication of the extent of the graffiti problem.”

Cr Cornish said he had mixed views about the wording behind the legislation, which included the power to remove “any drawing, writing, painting, symbol or mark applied to or marked on property” and was “considered by the local government to be unsightly or offensive”.

“If someone deliberately ‘graffitis’ their house, I presume it would be to make a political statement or similar,” he said.

“I am a strong proponent of free speech yet I don’t want neighbours to be negatively impacted.”