Over the last few years the amount of criminal offences harming our historic environment have been increasing - sadly the effects of these 'heritage crimes' can be irreversible.
A recent study commissioned by Historic England identified that a massive 18.7% of all listed buildings had been affected, in some way, by heritage crime, with metal theft being the biggest single problem. The study identified that churches are by far the buildings most at risk from crime with 3 in every 8 suffering damage and over 14% affected by metal-theft last year.
To help protect our precious heritage we have joined an initiative involving some local authorities, English Heritage, the Crown Prosecution Service and the Police, to start looking at the issues around heritage crime and how to prevent it. The Alliance to Reduce Crime Against Heritage (ARCH) is looking at helping Community Safety Partnerships throughout the country look at solutions. For more information visit ARCH (external link).
Priorities for reducing heritage crime
- Raising awareness of the issue within communities and with property owners/managers.
- Looking carefully at crime prevention measures and ensuring adequate protection to property is provided.
- Ensuring that communities are aware of the value of our heritage and the need to be aware.
- Preventing and detecting architectural theft including metal theft from the historic environment.
- Providing the appropriate level of enforcement for any unauthorised works to heritage buildings and sites.
If you'd like to find out how 'at risk' you are from heritage crime, you can download the Heritage Sites Risk Assessment Tool (Adobe PDF, 130kb)
Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, in partnership with other fire services in the North West and Historic England, has produced an Arson Risk Reduction booklet (Adobe PDF 6.7mb) to assist managers and owners of historic buildings in Lancashire to better understand the risk of arson and what can be done to reduce the chance of it occurring. Although most premises' managers pay regard to fire safety in terms of accidental fires that may occur within their building, few consider the potential for arson and therefore may be more vulnerable than they could otherwise be.
For information on helping to prevent the risk of an arson attack, download the Arson Risk Assessment of Heritage Premises (Adobe PDF format 32kb)