Police forces across Wales launch crackdown on heritage crime
Wales’ four police forces have linked-up to launch a crackdown on heritage crime.
Op Heritage Cymru is the first initiative of its kind in the UK is aimed at raising awareness and preventing heritage crime across the country.
Heritage crime is any offence which harms the value of heritage assets and their settings and applies to locations including conservation areas, listed buildings, scheduled monuments and World Heritage Sites.
Some of these assets are protected by specific criminal offences but heritage crime often takes the form of ‘general’ offences such as theft, criminal damage, arson, unlawful salvage of shipwrecks and anti-social behaviour which are equally damaging to historic assets and interfere with the public’s understanding and enjoyment of them.
Among the activities the operation will target are illegal metal detecting, or nighthawking, and off-roading on such sites.
Inspector Reuben Palin, from Dyfed-Powys Police said: “People are rightly proud of their heritage but unfortunately there is a minority that don’t give it the respect it deserves.
“Heritage crime is a serious issue that can have a serious negative effect on our communities.
“Our heritage and the small pieces of history that are broken down or lost to heritage crime, can never be replaced, so we want to make people think about their actions and discourage anyone from doing it.”
Police teams will be working with CADW, Welsh Government, Natural Resources Wales, National Parks, National Trust, Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, archaeological trusts and various volunteers across the sector to work towards a greater understanding of heritage crime.
To coincide with the launch, police cadets across Wales are being trained in heritage crime, along with training Rural Crime and Neighbourhood Policing teams.
Dyfed-Powys Police Chief Constable, Dr Richard Lewis, said: “Our heritage is what makes us who we are so it is vital that we protect these landmarks and landscapes for future generations.
“It may seem like small crimes to those involved but it is not. Anything that is taken or damaged in the process of heritage crime is irreplaceable. So, once they are gone they are lost forever.
“As police forces we are showing our commitment to this issue so we hope the public will support us by being our eyes and ears and reporting it to us when they see people committing heritage crimes.”
Police are advising people to call 101, quoting “Op Heritage Cymru” If they are concerned that a recent incident has taken place which has damaged a historic asset – or report it via the local force’s website.
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