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Wednesday, 13 November, 2002, 17:20 GMT
Graffiti artist rejects on the spot fines
Graffiti
Anti-social behaviour, including graffiti, vandalism and littering, have been targeted by the government in Queen's Speech. Police officers will have the power to demand on-the-spot fines of up to 90. But will it work?

"There is a whole world of difference between the graffiti artist and the graffiti vandal."

So says Chu, a Birmingham-born graffiti artist, who is deeply sceptical about the government's new plans to crack down on "street art".


If you are painting a surface which is not owned by you, or given to you to use, then you are committing a crime and you have to pay.

Chu
Graffiti artist
He sees it as a gimmick and said: "It's just a scheme to get someone in government a new job and to say 'Look what we've tried to do about crime'."

Chu - his street name - doubted whether police officers would want to impose on-the-spot fines.

'Paperwork'

He said: "It's too much paperwork. Is a street cleaner really going to want to do it to get 40 in the system."

Chu said: "The Criminal Justice Bill didn't work and I don't this will work either."

Asked if the fines would be a deterrent, he said: "It could be.

"You can't classify people using an aerosol by status or class. They are going to find a way to pay a fine, and there are bound to be ways of paying it monthly. If not they can always ask their mum or dad."

Chu said there was a world of difference between graffiti artists and graffiti vandals.

'Mindless'

One was motivated by an "artistic desire", he said, while the other was "mindless".

He said some of the latter may be deterred by the prospect of fines but the true "artists" would see it as a price worth paying.

As for himself, he said: "If you are painting a surface which is not owned by you, or given to you to use, then you are committing a crime and you have to pay."

Chu, a professional designer who is commissioned to do most of his work, said he usually used walls or other surfaces which he had permission to use.

But he said: "If I don't wish to get permission I will pay the consequences. No-one is free of the law just because they have an aerosol can in their hand."


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09 Oct 02 | UK
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