The maxiumum penalty for criminal damage to public monuments has been raised from three months' to 10 years' imprisonment.
The move, a reaction to the Edward Colston statue toppling and related events, has been widely criticised as meaningless and heavy handed, considering sentences for rape start at five years.
A policy analysis undertaken before the law change estimated just one person would be jailed each year, suggesting the harsher penalty is unlikely to be enforced.
The Home Office said the previous law focussed too much on the monetary value of the damage rather than the emotional impact: "As a result, the punishments do not fit the crime."
Vandalism that costs less than £5000 will be subject to a lesser sentence of three months' imprisonment and/or a fine of up to £2500.