Police & Crime Commissioner for Cheshire John Dwyer has been working with the Constabulary to ensure that Cheshire’s heritage sites are subject to fewer crimes.
John Dwyer said, "heritage crime is little understood but when people realise that there are 6000 sites in Cheshire designated as ‘heritage’ sites and that unfortunately, some are subject to criminal activity, suddenly people become very passionate about protecting them. I want to mobilise this passion in the police and public to protect the fantastic assets across the county which make us proud to live and work in Cheshire."
In 2012 English Heritage published the findings of their first national survey of the scale of threat to England’s historic buildings and sites from crime.
· 18.7% of all listed buildings were physically affected by crime in 2011
· 15.3% of scheduled monuments were affected
· Three in eight churches and other religious buildings were affected
· 12.3% of heritage assets were affected by anti-social behaviour
John Dwyer added, "Crimes against heritage are not victimless, it is not just the owner who suffers, the whole community loses and very often the thing that is stolen or damaged is literally irreplaceable. There is a real cost, Chester’s city walls and towers alone are estimated to be worth in excess of £25 million per year to the city’s economy.
Nationally, 100 organisations are now members of the Alliance to Reduce Crime against Heritage (ARCH).
In Cheshire, the launch of Heritage Watch by Assistant Chief Constable Ruth Purdie is the first initiative in the country aiming to involve the public in caring for their local heritage assets. New call handling procedures are highlighting when crime occurs at heritage sites. Nominated single points of contact have been introduced in each Neighbourhood policing unit and crime prevention advice is being offered for different types of heritage crime.
John Dwyer said, "I commend the work being done by the police and partners to focus on heritage crime but the real strength in tackling this is in the community where people care about their heritage and are prepared to keep a look out for metal theft, sand stone theft, criminal damage and anti-social behaviour. People can do simple things to help such as reporting crimes such as; unauthorised metal detecting, fires, fly posting, public urination and reporting unauthorised work to listed buildings, to either the police or their partners. Community and religious leaders can join Heritage Watch to assist in reducing metal theft and damage to important buildings."
Heritage sites in Cheshire include plaques, battle fields, parks and gardens, canal bridges, monuments, walls, guideposts, schools and houses as well as the more obvious tourist sites and religious buildings. A risk assessment tool and details of how to join Heritage Watch are available on the Cheshire Constabulary website. Alternatively, you could also sign up to Cheshire Police Alert (www.cheshirepolicealert.co.uk) which allows you to feed information to your local policing team as well as receiving a variety of information.