Criminal Damage or Art?

28/04/2014

Residents near to our Cheltenham office are getting used to increased levels of attention due to the emergence of a painting on a wall comprising three men with listening and recording equipment focussing on a telephone box.

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Many believe the painting was produced by the well-known artist Banksy.  It is clear that the painting has attracted a lot of positive attention with crowds of people queuing to have their photos taken in the phone box.

Some people may be considering whether this painting is art, another piece of criminal damage or vandalism?  Is it acceptable for anyone to draw or paint pictures on property belonging to another as and when they want?

When considering the above questions consideration should be given to S1(1) Criminal Damage Act 1971 which reads, ‘A person who without lawful excuse destroys or damages any property belonging to another intending to destroy or damage any such property or being reckless as to whether any such property would be destroyed or damaged shall be guilty of an offence.’

The wall has been altered by the painting.  Is this damage? Does it depend on how good the painting is? Is it any different to graffiti? If it is a Banksy then it may be worth a lot of money and may have increased the value of the property it has been painted on. This makes a complaint by the owner unlikely. However, if it was not so famous would a complaint be forthcoming? What is clear is that one person’s art may be another’s damage.

Whichever this is, it has certainly attracted attention and put a smile on people’s faces.

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