City wants to hit taggers with stiffer penalties

Convicted taggers are traditionally slapped with fines and in some cases, banned from possessing graffiti equipment

The city is cracking down on taggers.

City council agreed to send a letter to Crown council asking for tougher penalties for those convicted of tagging.

Coun. Ron Kerr, chair of the city’s Community Services, Recreation and Culture Commission, said the group hopes stiffer consequences will be a deterrent.

“The committee felt the court’s level of reprimand is not sufficient enough to deter graffiti,” Kerr said. “It felt community work is a more appropriate response. The committee is certainly hoping this may succeed as a deterrent.”

Convicted taggers are traditionally slapped with fines and in some cases, banned from possessing graffiti equipment such as paints and sprays.

At its March 4 meeting, council wanted the punishment to go further.

Council is asking the Crown to consider requiring convicted taggers to complete volunteer or community service hours as part of their sentencing.

Coun. Ryan Mennie, though, wanted some clarity.

“Wouldn’t this change be a moot point as some of the folks doing graffiti have gone through the restorative justice program which keeps them out of the courts?” Mennie asked.

Coun. Claire Moglove said restorative justice is an alternative to going through the courts, and those who the RCMP put through the program avoid a criminal conviction.

“If a tagger’s convicted they would have gone through the court system,” Moglove said. “If they had gone through restorative justice, they wouldn’t be convicted. This is for convicted taggers.”

Campbell River RCMP recently elected to put several taggers through the restorative justice system as they were youth or young adults with no criminal records.

Last summer, RCMP caught five Campbell River residents through surveillance video tagging the brand-new splash park at Willow Point Park.

The four young adults and one youth had sprayed painted the soap dispensers in the washrooms.

Because the offenders admitted to their crime and had no previous interactions with police, the RCMP chose to divert the culprits from the court system to the Restorative Justice Program.

The program brings together offenders, victims and their families to correct the wrong.

In the splash park vandalism case, the offenders paid restitution for the damage, wrote an open apology letter to the community and agreed to community service.