Hard to prove offence of defacing a road sign

One of the road signs in Limavady.
One of the road signs in Limavady.

The offence of defacing a road sign is a difficult one to prove, as “substantial and clear evidence” is required before an effective prosecution can be brought.

That’s according to the Department of Infrastructure (DFI), who say vandalism of road signs is “a regular problem”, and ranges from general graffiti to the defacing of signs.

One of the latest signs targeted is on the Greystone Road in Limavady. The sign using the word Londonderry was sprayed to blacken out the ‘London’ lettering.

The Department said they are “aware of graffiti” at the sign after they received a complaint.

While it is a criminal offence, the spokesperson said “it is difficult to prove a case as the courts would require substantial and clear evidence before an effective prosecution can be brought.”

“Routine inspections carried out by Department staff identify damaged or defective signs or signs that require cleaning to improve their visibility,” said the DFI spokesperson.

Remedial work required ranges from cleaning to replacement of signs, said the DFI spokesperson.

“The necessary action is decided upon after considering the resource required and, indeed, the likelihood of reoccurrence of the problem,” added the spokesperson.

DUP Colr. Alan Robinson said on social media the issue had “raised its ugly head in Limavady town.”

He posted a photo of the Greystone Road sign on Facebook, stating “the bigots armed with spray tins in Limavady just don’t get it.”

Colr. Robinson said with efforts to get “promotional signage on key points as commuters would enter the outer limits of our town, it is imperative that we nip this childish activity in the bud.”

Sinn Fein Colr. Sean McGlinchey said there are bigger issues to be concerned about.

“I don’t agree with defacing any sign, but this is just typical of the DUP. What about the roundabout outside the town that was painted red, white and blue? What about the estates in Limavady where the kerbs are painted red, white and blue - is that not criminal damage? People are trying to come to terms with the election, and all the big issues. This is just electioneering. There are bigger issues to be concerned about. “