Recently Heritage Action has joined ARCH which will hopefully be a fruitful association which we will be talking more about in forthcoming articles. We’d like to start off though with a simple plea and some advice which hopefully our readers will find helpful. Anyone who has been visiting ancient sites for long enough will have either seen recent damage to the site or rubbish dumped on the site. This is illegal and if we all want it to stop then we must all start reporting it to the police, so they can gauge the true extent of the crimes and allocate sufficient resources to deal with them.

We are hoping one day to help ARCH to facilitate online reporting of these crimes, but in the meantime all you need to do if you do see littering, damage, graffiti etc is take lots of pictures of the damage, note down some facts and then make one simple phone call.

Types of crime to report

Many people believe that the low level crime many of us encounter, on an all-too-regular basis at many sites, is too small to bother the police with and they just won’t care about it. This is on the whole untrue, and even if they are unable to catch the perpetrator, the police will at least start to get an understanding of the scale of the problem. The following is a list of crimes that we have confirmed should be reported:

Damage to a monument
Holes dug, stones chipped by machinery, obvious vehicle tracks across the monument, graffiti whether permanent or with something like chalk etc

Damaged sign at the Rollright Stones in 2007 © AlanS

Builders’ rubble, car parts, sizeable household rubbish (ie 2 or more bin bags worth), porn mags etc

Litter at the Rest And Be Thankful stone, near Brighton. © AlanS

Site damage reporting check list

In case you are unlucky enough to find a site either damaged or littered, follow this simple check list to report it to the police.

  1. Take lots of photos.
  2. Take 5 minutes to briefly write down the following:
    – date
    – site name
    – site location (an OS ref will do)
    – type of crime
    – extent of crime
  3. Ring the police on 999 if its happening right now and on 101 if its already happened. You do not have to give your name.

How to report

Its hard to believe but its not always possible for a police call centre worker to easily work out the details of a crime being reported. You can aid this by being succinct and guiding the initial stages of the conversation. Make sure you are clear on the nature of the crime. It would also help to know which police force covers the monument in question, a best guess would be the county the site is contained in. At present due to the low levels of reporting for heritage crime, you may need to persevere as this will be the first time these workers have had to deal with a case like this.

Let us know

If you report a crime at a site, please let us know how it went, good or bad. It’s only with feedback that ARCH can help police forces around the country to improve their response to this kind of crime.