A police scheme designed to protect Dacorum’s historical sites and cultural monuments from a wide range of criminal activity launches today.
The new Heritage Watch initiative calls upon those with an interest in local history to become the eyes and ears of the area’s best-loved cultural assets and report any heritage crime attacks or threats.
According to the force, heritage crime is any offence which targets the historical environment – including natural landmarks and cultural property – such as theft, anti-social behaviour, criminal damage, unauthorised excavation and metal detecting.
English Heritage and Herts County Council have given their backing to the scheme, which aims to tackle the rise in this type of offence, thought to be caused by the economic downturn.
It is thought crooks are increasingly turningtheir attention to the quick cash return that metal theft and the illegal trade of historical and cultural assets can bring.
Dacorum’s Chief Insp Glen Channer has teamed up with the Ashridge Estate, which boasts the Grade II-listed Bridgewater Monument among its attractions, as part of the operation.
Ashridge’sNational Trust general manager Kirsten Proctor said: “The county’s heritage is a precious legacy which we should not only respect and enjoy ourselves, but also look after for future generations.
“I am very pleased to support Heritage Watch, as the more aware people are of their local heritage, the more they are likely to appreciate it.
“For us at Ashridge, it’s particularly important for people to recognise that the countryside is also an important part of local heritage.
“We need the public to play an active part in a protecting our heritage and joining Heritage Watch is a great way to show your support.”
Herts Chief Con Andy Bliss is the national policing lead for heritage crime and cultural property.
He said: “Tackling heritage and cultural property crime is something I take an active interest in, not only because I am the national policing lead, but also because I feel it is important to protect Herts’ historical and cultural assets for future generations.
“People who live close to historical sites and those who have a real interest in our local history tend to frequent the county’s areas of historical interest more often and are therefore likely to notice anything suspicious or out of the ordinary.”
Visit herts.police.uk/HeritageWatch for more information and to become a member of the scheme.