Heritage Crime


Heritage Crime

Heritage Crime

Anne Blacker

Environmental Crime Unit

What is Crime

! The breaking of rules or laws for which

some governing authority can ultimately

prescribe a conviction

! Many environmental and heritage crime


What is heritage crime and why do we care

Any crime that

harms the value of Northern Ireland’s

heritage assets to this and

future generations.

Irreversible loss of fabric & knowledge

Finite resource

Belongs to the Nation

Unlawful excavation

We are the Temporary guardians

It includes:

! Arson

! Theft

! Unauthorised Works, including Demolition

! Searching for Archaeological Objects without a licence including the use

of metal detectors

! Selling Archaeological objects / portable antiquities

! Planning breaches/offences

Planning legislation protects certain named heritage properties, such as Listed

Buildings and Scheduled Monuments, against damage and unlicensed alteration

Theft, criminal damage, arson, fraud and anti-social behaviour can

also cause harm to heritage – range of legislation

NIEA legislation re archaeology – metal detecting, disturbance of sites etc

There is a division of enforcement responsibilities

Apparent rarity of incidents

Lack of expertise

Lack of understanding of the nature of the Harm

Some law never enforced

As an issue, Heritage Crime rose dramatically up the political

agenda in Northern Ireland as a result of a sudden surge in fires

(11) at listed buildings between April and August 2011.

In an average year there is around one or two such incidents.

Minister Attwood convened a ‘Heritage Crime Summit’ to examine

the issue and agree solutions.


Theft- particularly lead theft has been raising headlines more


- lead

- copper

- carved detail - stone - wood

- slate

- (even humble) bricks

Consequent loss of detail,

Greatly increased rate of rot

Increased restoration costs

Three Heritage Crime Summits were held between August 2011

and April 2012 to examine the issue




NIEA stakeholder partnership with PSNI under the management of

the PSNI Security and Serious Harm Project Board – to tackle all

environmetnal and heritage crime and reduce the harm it does.

SPOC system in place between ECU and PSNI


! Results

! Casework

! Illegal dumping from


! Metal detecting

! Sales of artefacts on

the internet

! Metal theft

Learning curve for

both organisations




! Conference on archaeological crime Feb


! Financial investigation conference with

environmental theme Feb 2012

! BH delivery of talk to PSNI Crime

Prevention Officers September 2012

! Information on heritage on PSNI systems


Going Forward

! Vigilance

! Intelligence

! Taskforce

! Proceeds of Crime

! Planning – rebuilding

! Crimestoppers


Planning NI to review staff guidance to ensure that, where a

planning application is associated with a building at risk, full use is

made of existing powers to condition approvals and achieve repair

at an early stage of a project.


NIEA – Built Heritage

To help deterrence and save individual buildings, Unit to bring

forward serving Urgent Works Notices on buildings at risk where

engagement with an owner is not achieving progress

Tyrone Courier

Building ,


6 Urgent Works Notices issued since October 2011 and 61 warning

letters issued.


Our aim is to: protect,

conserve and promote

our natural environment

and built heritage for the

benefit of present and

future generations.

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