Nino Bucci | The Age | 20 October 2011
IT STARTS with a can of spray paint and often ends behind bars.
But Frankston police are confident a new program will stop the first graffiti mark leading to a lengthy criminal history.
For the first time in Victoria, youths facing a criminal damage offence can have the charges dropped if they take part in a program that includes painting over daubed walls.
Frankston City Council spends almost $400,000 each year removing graffiti from about 30,000 square metres of property.
Senior Constable Renee Bloomfield, who developed the program as youth resource officer, said too often police dealt with offenders who started as teenage vandals before graduating to more serious crime. The program will be launched today and rolled out more widely if the pilot proves successful.
''The earlier the young person enters the criminal justice system the greater the likelihood they are going to remain embroiled within it,'' she said. ''If we can get a young person at 13 or 14 and put that intervention in place we can stop that cycle.''