“The premise that “illegal graffiti is a serious problem” is used to justify the reversal of the onus of proof, with the example of the offense of “going equipped for stealing etc”. This raises the question does the Minister consider that illegal graffiti is as serious a problem as burglary? How does this compare to the serious problem of politicians who vote twice in elections? Here also there has been problems in “demonstrating the requisite intent” resulting no convictions ever being recorded for the offense.”
I sent this email to Victorian Department of Justice following up their reply to my entry “Lex Injusta”. And I have received a reply citing an estimated cost of graffiti of $300 million a year (Graffiti and Disorder Conference, 2003). This is a weak argument as graffiti policy, unlike many other crimes, determines the cost of graffiti removal. Further in comparison, burglary costs an estimated $2,430 million a year (Australian Institute of Criminology).
The identification of graffiti as ‘a problem’ by 26% of households in an ABS 2005 survey on crime was also cited by the Victorian Department of Justice in their reply. However, according to the same ABS 2005 survey “the most common household crime in all survey years was house break-in.” And the percentage of people who believed that house break-in was a problem was 33%. And 30% of respondents believed that there was “no problems in their neighbourhood.” We can go on all day about statistics, remembering Mark Twain’s remark that there are lies, damned lies and statistics.
Statistics and public opinion can be manipulated to show support (or not) for the recent draconian anti-graffiti ‘laws’. Although Victoria has something called human rights legislation it is not worth the paper that it is printed on as it can be overturned with a few words from the right person. The main effect of the human rights legislation appears to be getting people, like the Minister, to write excuses as to why they are violating human rights. It would be better if Victorian politicians set a good example to the next generations by respecting human rights and principles of justice rather than finding excuses to ignore them.