This browser is not fully supported by Historic England. Please update your browser to the latest version so that you get the best from our website.

Police Response to Heritage Crime

Many police services have already become actively involved in preventing and investigating crimes and anti-social behaviour against the historic environment by using a multi-agency approach involving:

  • The Police (through the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO))
  • The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS)
  • Historic England and
  • Local authorities

Illegal excavation at Irchester Roman Town.
Illegal excavation at Irchester Roman Town.

We encourage witnesses/victims to report and record crimes using 999/101 and then ask the call-handler to ensure that the Heritage Coordinator is also notified. They will do this by endorsing the call record. In many forces the heritage crime function has been aligned to wildlife crime.

If you have received a report of an incident which may be a crime or anti-social behaviour affecting a heritage asset the steps to consider are:

1. Check whether your local police service has a designated point of contact for heritage crime or whether certain officers or police staff have received training on heritage crime matters. This should be available on internal Intranet pages.

2. Ensure that the call-handler passes the details of the incident on to the designated point of contact to liaise with the investigating officer for their information and to provide support and assistance with the investigation.

3. As part of the investigation you will need to check the status of the heritage asset affected by the crime or incident of anti social behaviour. This information may be found on the National Heritage List for England, within the conservation department or from the Historic Environment Records Officer of the relevant local authority who will be able to provide details of any heritage assets which are locally rather than nationally listed. 

Both Historic England and your local authority conservation department will be able to give you advice and support your investigation as to the impact and harm caused by the incident on the significance of the heritage asset.

4. Historic England along with ACPO, the CPS and local authorities have developed a partnership model for the prevention and enforcement of heritage crime.

The aim of this model is to deliver a programme of preventative measures and enforcement activities that are realistic, efficient and deliverable:

  • Within existing and anticipated resourcing levels
  • Are sustainable and
  • Have the capacity to develop its coverage and effectiveness over time.

Neighbourhood Policing has been established to tackle crime and day to day anti social behaviours most affecting local neighbourhoods and provides a useful model for tackling heritage crime.  This is often best done at a local level through Community Safety Partnerships.

If your force/service does not yet have a designated point of contact then please consider the information Cheshire Constabulary or Norfolk County Council have put on their websites, which provides very helpful information and guidance on the development of a strategy and tactics to deal with heritage crime and anti-social behaviour in the historic environment.

Was this page helpful?

Related publications