Department of Justice is now the Department of Communities and Justice.  Find out more >

Graffiti facts and figures

Exact figures in regard to graffiti vandalism are hard to obtain, both because graffiti vandalism is an under-reported crime, and due to irregular and inconsistent reporting of data by government agencies, businesses, the community and private property owners. The following statistics should be considered in this light.

    What is graffiti vandalism?

    The term 'graffiti vandalism' refers to illegally defacing private or public property with markings and/or graphics without the owner's consent. Graffiti is illegal and an offence under the Graffiti Control Act 2008 (NSW) and the NSW Crimes Act 1900. Types of graffiti contained within this definition include tagging, etching and murals.

    The incidence of graffiti

    A total of 40,317 incidents of graffiti were reported to NSW Police in the five-year period to June 2016 (July 2011 to June 2016), with an average annual number of incidents per year of 8,063. There has been an overall downward trend in graffiti incidents reported to Police over the past five years, down an average of 7.5 per cent per year.

    Graffiti hotspots

    Graffiti hotspots are those Local Government Area (LGAs) with the highest number of recorded incidences of graffiti. The table below lists the top 10 LGAs in NSW with the highest number of graffiti incidents in 2016.

    Top 10 LGAs for graffiti

    PostcodeNumber of incidentsRank
    Wyong3991
    Lake Macquarie3532
    Sydney3503
    Sutherland Shire3354
    Blacktown3095
    Newcastle2706
    Blue Mountains2567
    Wollongong2298
    Marrickville1529
    Gosford14710

    Source: NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR), 2016.

    Graffiti targets

    In the 2015–2016 financial year, the premises type most commonly reported to police as being targets of graffiti vandalism were residential dwellings (26.8 per cent). This was followed by public transport (19.7 per cent), business/commercial (18.6 per cent) and outdoor/public places (15.3 per cent).

    Most common premise types for graffiti

    Premise typeNo. of GV incidentsPercentage
    Residential1,76726.8
    Public transport1,29719.7
    Business/commercial1,22318.6
    Outdoor/public place1,00815.3
    Education5298.0
    Recreation
    Industrial
    194
    137
    2.9
    2.1
    Car park1342.0
    Health
    Other
    82
    221
    1.2
    3.4
    Total6,592100

    Source: NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR), 2016.

    Graffiti offenders

    Graffiti vandalism is a crime for which it is difficult to apprehend and therefore, prosecute offenders. For the five years between 2011 and 2016, there were 40,317 graffiti incidents reported to police. Males represented 88.9 per cent (4,338) of all people proceeded against. Juveniles have historically made up a significant portion (60.2 per cent) of those proceeded against.

    Further information

    More detailed information on graffiti vandalism in NSW may be found on the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOSCAR) website.