Monday, 14 February 2011

News - Crackdown on metal-detecting criminals who steal heritage and damage dig sites (Lincolnshire)

A CAMPAIGN has been launched to combat criminals who steal from historic buildings and wreck archaeological dig sites.

The initiative aims to clamp down on practices such as "nighthawking" where thieves use metal detectors to find buried historic objects.

It will also focus on damage caused to the historic environment by fire, graffiti and vehicles, and architectural thefts of items ranging from stone walls to vintage street signs and unlawful alteration and demolition of listed buildings.

The campaign is being led by Chief Constable of Lincolnshire Police Richard Crompton, who is also the national lead at the Association of Police Officers in tackling heritage crime. Crompton said: "This is a really important step which will have a significant impact on the problem of crime and antisocial behaviour in and around our historic environment. A great many people care deeply about this sort of crime and I believe that we can tap into that concern and interest and work with communities to make a real difference."

Tom Lane, senior archaeologist at Heritage Lincolnshire, said: "Illegal metal detecting can cause damage apart from digging up fields.

"It can remove objects from their archaeological context so if, at a later stage, we did a proper excavation then there would just be holes and things.

"There's also the fact that what is in the ground, if it's not treasure trove, is the property of the landowner."

Those who illegally metal detect get information on where to look from ordnance survey maps which have Romano British Remains written on them.

Lincolnshire County Council finds liaison officer Adam Daubney said: "The majority of metal detectorists carry out their hobby legitimately, voluntarily reporting their finds to the Portable Antiquities Scheme.

"These enthusiasts have a genuine interest in the past and their finds are helping to advance knowledge of our heritage.

"In Lincolnshire alone, legitimate metal detectorists have reported 28,000 finds during the past ten years.

"These have led to the discovery of 175 new sites ranging from Roman temples to medieval markets.

"Unfortunately, there are those whose actions are criminal – damaging our fine heritage – and Lincolnshire County Council supports any initiative to tackle this and any other sort of heritage crime."

English Heritage, the police and the Crown Prosecution Service want to develop a nationwide network to include organisations such as the National Trust, the Church of England and the Woodland Trust to co-ordinate efforts to tackle heritage crimes.

yet again someone having a go at metal-detectorists!

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