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Heritage Crime


Heritage crime, as defined by Historic England, is any offence which harms the value of heritage assets and their settings. Heritage assets are sites which are considered to have value to the heritage of England. Such sites include –

• Listed buildings
• Scheduled monuments
• World Heritage Sites
• Protected marine wreck sites
• Conservation areas
• Registered parks and gardens
• Registered battlefields
• Protected military remains of aircraft and vessels of historic interest
• Undesignated but acknowledged heritage buildings and sites.

This offence may take place indirectly through other crimes; those that are posing the largest threat to heritage sites are -

• Criminal damage – vandalism, graffiti and arson
• Architectural theft – in particular metal and stone
• Unlawful metal detecting - often referred to as 'Nighthawking'
• Anti-social behaviour- in particular fly-tipping and off-road driving
• Illicit trade in cultural objects
• Unauthorised works to a listed building or scheduled monument.

Please see the links in Related Information.


If you witness any criminal activity/suspicious behaviour taking place at a heritage site, you should report this to your local police force.

Most police forces have a liaison officer who will coordinate issues related to heritage crime in their area. You can contact them via 101 or, wherever there is an immediate danger to life or property and an emergency response is required, via their 999 number.

You should also contact Historic England and/or your Local Authority's Conservation Department to make them aware of any damage to a designated heritage asset e.g. a listed building or a scheduled monument.

Heritage Watch Schemes are being introduced to allow the public to report and share information on any suspicious/illegal behaviour encountered at heritage sites in their community. Please see the following links for more information and to see whether your local area is part of the Heritage Watch Scheme.


One of the most effective ways to prevent crime re-occurring is to report it. Please see question in related information for details on how to do so.

If you are the owner or manager of a historic place, the Heritage Crime Prevention Measures guidance offers various actions you can take to make your building/site more secure. Please be aware that many of the actions may require consent from your Local Authority Conservation Department beforehand.

The Heritage Crime Prevention Measures provides guidance on reducing the threat of crime to historic buildings and sites throughout England. Some of the measures suggested include -

◾ Use of CCTV
◾ Monitor exits
◾ Use of physical security e.g. locks, bolts, fencing
◾ Raise public awareness of heritage crime throughout the community
◾ Remove temptation; any valuables should be moved off site if unoccupied
◾ Set and display rules.

Please see links in related websites for further information and to view the full guide.

Contact your local police force

Enter your town or postcode to see information from your local force

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