Scheme set up to protect historic sites celebrates first birthday

The Bridgewater monument at the Ashridge estate in Berkhamsted

The Bridgewater monument at the Ashridge estate in Berkhamsted

  • A scheme set up to protect historic sites and monuments across Hertfordshire from criminal activity is marking its first anniversary
  • It covers various sites including the National Trust Ashridge estate in Berkhamsted
  • Heritage crime covers any criminal activity which could leave permanent damage on historical assets
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A scheme which was set up to protect historic sites and monuments from heritage crime is celebrating its first anniversary.

Twelve months ago today (Wednesday) Hertfordshire Constabulary, with the support of Historic England and Herts County Council, launched a scheme called Heritage Watch which was introduced at heritage sites and museums across the county including the National Trust Ashridge estate and Bridgewater monument in Berkhamsted.

Representatives from the Ashridge estate plus other sites across the county are using the anniversary to encourage members of the public to join the scheme if they haven’t already done so.

The scheme aims to further protect the county’s historical artefacts and heritage sites by improving communication between people who live near them, those who have an interest in the county’s heritage and the police.

Susie Mercer, National Trust general manager at Ashridge Estate said: “I am very pleased to continue to support Heritage Watch as it reaches its first anniversary; 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.

“I would urge members of the public to consider joining up if they haven’t already done so, we need the public to play an active part in protecting our heritage.”

The increased awareness of heritage crime, which schemes such as Heritage Watch promote, led to two stolen 18th century milestones from Redbourn and Harpenden being found by members of the public in Hemel Hempstead and Kings Langley on the same day - http://www.hemeltoday.co.uk/news/more-news/people-power-and-social-media-sees-the-safe-recovery-of-two-historic-milestones-1-6698614

Herts constabulary’s chief constable, Andy Bliss, who is the national policing lead for heritage crime said: “We were very proud to be the second force in the country to introduce Heritage Watch and I would like to thank those who have joined the scheme so far.

“It’s so important that we do what we can to tackle heritage and cultural property crime effectively to protect Hertfordshire’s historical and cultural assets for future generations.

“I would encourage anyone who lives close to an historical site, or who has a real interest in our local history, to sign up to the scheme to become the ‘guardians’ of these precious sites and artefacts and report anything suspicious to police.”

Heritage crime is any offence which targets the historic environment - such as famous natural landmarks, cathedrals and ancient battle fields - and cultural property - such as pieces of art, jade and rhino horn.

Heritage crime also covers a wide variety of criminal activity which can damage assets forever including architectural theft, anti-social behaviour, criminal damage, unauthorised excavation and metal detecting, damage caused by vehicles, metal theft or theft of historical and cultural property.

Other landmarks protected across the county include Hertford Castle, St Albans Abbey, Mill Green Museum and Hatfield House.

Police and crime commissioner for Herts David Lloyd said: “I am delighted to continue to support Heritage Watch as it helps the constabulary and the public to protect our precious heritage for future generations.

“I believe that protecting our heritage is everybody’s business and getting everyone involved in keeping Hertfordshire safe and secure is a key part of my plan. “Hertfordshire’s beautiful heritage sites and assets are a key part of what make this place so special – and I intend to keep it that way.”

To sign up or become a member of Heritage Watch visit http://www.herts.police.uk/advice/rural_policing/heritage_crime-1/heritage_watch.aspx