Kerryn Boogaard Kerryn Boogaard
Beverly Goldsmith Beverly Goldsmith
Zoe Bingley-Pullin Zoe Bingley-Pullin

Hopscotch gets serious:

Young hopscotches in NSW could become unwitting criminals under proposed anti-graffiti laws
By Motherpedia
Date: September 21 2013
Tags: kids, hopscotch, law,
Editor Rating:

A harmless game of hopscotch has gotten serious under changes to the anti-graffit laws in New South Wales.

The legislation introduced it an offence to intentionally mark any premises or other property without the permission of the owner.

Greens MP David Shoebridge says there is no requirement in the legislation for a mark to be permanent or difficult to remove.

He says that means it will technically outlaw things like chalk hopscotch squares or handball courts drawn on footpaths or bitumen.

"Unless the kids get the consent of the local council they're committing an offence," Mr Shoebridge said.

Attorney-General Greg Smith has downplayed the impact of the new legislation while apparently acknowledging that drawing in chalk will technically be an offence.

He says police always have discretion about whether to lay charges and he considers it unlikely they would charge children for chalking up hopscotch squares.

“Laws that make criminals of children chalking hopscotch courts are an outrage,” says Simon Breheny, Editor, FreedomWatch at free market think tank the Institute of Public Affairs.

The Graffiti Control Amendment Bill 2013 (NSW) would make it illegal for people “to intentionally mark any premises or other property” without the consent of the “person in charge” of the building or premises. Individuals face fines of $440 for offences under the proposed law.

 “The bill allows police discretion as to who they will prosecute for offences committed under the act. Police should not have arbitrary power to decide how the law should be applied,” said Mr Breheny.

“It is good that the NSW government is taking steps to protect private property from vandals but this bill is not the answer. The proposed legislation should be abandoned as it criminalises behaviour that poses no threat to the community at all,” said Mr Breheny.

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