Sunday, March 8, 2009

Dis-semenating graffiti

Yes, I have deliberately mis-spelled the title to this post, since it is all about a local tagger known as "semen".  I wrote about him earlier this week after he left a trail of damage from Abbotsford to Five Dock.  Here is an example of his handiwork outside Envy Hair and Beauty (note that I took the photo to include their phone number, which is a reminder for me to call them so that they can de-semenate their premises).  

Semen gets around a bit - here are two examples from Homebush.  

Why am I making a big deal out of Mr Semen?

Because I am on a mission this week to ensure that every authority or utility that has been tagged by Mr Semen has reported it to the Police.  I know the council does that - there web based reporting system is hooked up to the Police, so any report that goes into it is automatically passed on to the Police.

Last week, Cheyene Back had her three month jail sentence overturned on appeal.

She immediately appealed against the severity of the punishment in the District Court - and yesterday won.

The original sentence had been, Judge Greg Hosking ruled, "unusual in the extreme".

After all, she had nothing on her criminal record, pleaded guilty straight away and had shown remorse. Judge Hosking took just 10 minutes to overturn the jail term.

If there is on thing about graffiti tagging that I have noted it is this - almost no one ever writes just one tag.  The evidence is all around us - just look at Mr Semen.  His tags cover at least 3 suburbs, and he's just starting out.

However, as far as the justice system is concerned, if he is ever caught, he can only be convicted based on the information presented to the court.  He's tagged property owned by Telstra, Australia Post, Energy Australia, Canada Bay Council and private businesses.  Let's assume he's put down 10 tags on 10 different properties, and only the tag on the Canada Bay Council property ends up being recorded in the graffiti system.  If he ends up before a judge, he'll be judged based on that one recorded tag, not the 10 that he's left scrawled up and down the street.  It's quite possible the judge will say it was a "one off" offense and Mr Semen has "no criminal record".

So I am going to be chasing up each of the utilities this week, asking them if they report each and every instance of graffiti that is left on their property. I've already started with Energy Australia.  It doesn't cut any ice with me when the CEO of a utility complains about the cost of graffiti, but then doesn't promulgate an internal policy stating that all graffiti must be reported without fail.  If they want to ensure that vandals are punished properly, then they need to ensure that as much data as possible is collected and collated in a single Police database.

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