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Heritage Crime


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| What is heritage crime? | The cost to communities | Hertfordshire's heritage |
| Rural Operational Support Team | Tackling heritage crime | How you can help | ARCH |


What is heritage crime?

Heritage crime is any offence which harms heritage assets and their settings. It covers a wide variety of criminal activity which damages assets of particular interest forever:

Crimes impacting on Hertfordshire’s heritage include:


Six Hills, Stevenage

  • Architectural Theft
  • Arson
  • Anti-social behaviour
  • Criminal Damage / Graffiti
  • Unauthorised development
  • Unauthorised excavation
  • Damage caused by vehicles
  • Metal Theft
  • Unauthorised metal detecting
  • Theft of historical or cultural artefacts cultural property, such as pieces of art, jade and rhino horn


Knebworth HouseWhilst heritage sites are not necessarily being targeted by criminals, with the exception of churches and monuments targeted for their lead and metal, most assets are being damaged by people who aren’t aware of the impact their behaviour or actions are having. Examples of this would be graffiti and fly posting.

The cost to communities

Putting right damage caused to heritage assets is expensive and the cost to communities can be enormous. For example metal theft from ancient monuments leads to repair bills of hundreds of thousands of pounds, not to mention the loss of historical artefacts which current and future generations will no longer be able to enjoy.

Heritage assets also bring in tourists who spend money which in turn creates jobs for people in the local area. Many of the historic sites lie on agricultural land and if a crime is committed it can lead to the farmer losing income.

Hertfordshire’s heritageEleanor Cross, Waltham Cross

Hertfordshire has thousands of heritage assets across the county which could be vulnerable to heritage crime. These include:

  • Listed buildings
  • Registered battlefields
  • Registered parks and gardens
  • Scheduled monuments
  • Conservation areas
  • Areas of archaeological importance
  • Areas of archaeological potential

With the increase in heritage crime, it has never been more important for communities to play their part in tackling crime associated with these assets in order to preserve them for future generations.

 “Many communities realise that heritage crimes do not only damage buildings but also the quality of life in their area. We hope that more community networks will be established with the skills, understanding and information to make a real difference.”

- Mark Harrison, National Policing Advisor at English Heritage


Verulamium, Roman Wall, St Albans
Heritage assets are more vulnerable to heritage crime if:

• They’re unoccupied

  • • Windows/doors are insecure
  • • The asset is secluded
  • • Crimes have occurred in the past
  • • Asset has a high metal content
  • • Domestic households are unaware of the laws about  development
  • • The asset can be moved / lifted


Rural Operational Support Team

Hertfordshire Constabulary ‘s Rural Operational Support Team Officers (ROST) coordinate the force’s response to heritage crime, supporting Intervention and Safer Neighbourhood Team officers. The team has established links with organisations such as Natural England, English Heritage and Herts County Council. These links have identified the areas throughout our county that are subject to additional protection due to heritage crime. Offences against the county’s heritage carry considerable sentencing/ fines and stronger penalties are used.


If you would like to speak to a member of the ROST team, please call the non-emergency number 101 and you will be put through to someone who can help you. In an emergency dial 999.

Tackling Heritage Crime

Hertfordshire Constabulary is working closely with Herts County Council, local councils, the Crown Prosecution Service and English Heritage to reduce the amount of crime that damages our historic sites and buildings.

How you can help








The Alliance to Reduce Crime against Heritage (ARCH) is a new voluntary national network, spearheaded by English Heritage, the Police and the Crown Prosecution Service, is taking forward initiatives to galvanise local and national action against heritage crime. The overriding objective of the group is to reduce the amount of crime that causes damage to or interferes with the enjoyment of heritage assets in England.

There are currently more than 100 ARCH members, including a number from across Cheshire. Membership of the group is free and open to all organisations and groups that have an interest in preventing and enforcing heritage crime.

Click here to find out how you can sign up to join Heritage Watch