Suffolk signs up to heritage crime initiative

Suffolk County Council has signed up to a new initiative to tackle heritage crime and stop thieves and vandals from destroying or damaging precious ancient monuments and historic buildings.

Many organisations are signing up to the Memorandum of Understanding from the national Alliance to Reduce Crime against Heritage (ARCH). In doing so they pledge to do all they can to protect local historical treasures. In Suffolk these include one of the greatest concentrations of medieval churches and archaeological sites in the country.

Launched by English Heritage earlier this year, ARCH is an initiative that aims to bring together local authorities in identifying the heritage assets in their area that may be at risk of irreversible damage from crime and to report suspicious behaviour to their neighbourhood policing teams.

Councillor Guy McGregor, Suffolk County Council's Portfolio Holder for Roads and Transport said; "Theft and vandalism of Suffolk’s rich and irreplaceable heritage is on the increase. Heritage crime blights communities and must be stopped, which is why I am delighted to commit Suffolk County Council to this new initiative to work alongside local communities, farmers, landowners, the police and English Heritage to tackle it and protect Suffolk's heritage."

Greg Luton, Planning Director for English Heritage for the East of England, said; "I am delighted that Suffolk County Council has joined ARCH; this new initiative has already shown that it can bring together different organisations within communities to establish local networks, which is the most important part of the project because this is where the real difference can be made if it galvanises local action."

Suffolk County Council's official database of heritage sites, the Suffolk Historic Environment Record, includes over 27,000 records, of archaeological sites and findspots and 13,000 historic buildings.

Heritage crimes in Suffolk have included metal detecting during night time raids on the Roman town in Icklingham and on Anglo-Saxon cemeteries, as well as the theft of lead from church roofs and ancient oak chests from inside them.

Other heritage crimes include damaging ancient monuments, metal detecting and unlawful excavations on archaeological sites spraying graffiti, arson, vandalism, and the alteration or demolition of listed buildings without consent.

 

By Becky Whiting on January 4th, 2012