The above alleged knowledge thieves are now famous thanks to the this week’s BBC exposé of nighthawking on a protected Roman site.

The above alleged knowledge thieves are now famous thanks to the recent BBC exposé of nighthawking on a protected Roman site.

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But this weekend an army of people will be out detecting, quite legally, on many hundreds of unprotected Roman sites.Thousands of them don't report their finds and so steal vastly more knowledge than nighthawks, but they aren't famous.

But this weekend an army of people will be out detecting, perfectly legally, on hundreds of unprotected  Roman sites. Most of them don’t report some or all of their finds (as PAS has categorically confirmed and the Government doesn’t deny) which means they steal vastly more knowledge than nighthawks. Yet not one of them is famous.

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Britain is truly barmy. All this hand-wringing about nighthawks and the damage they do is irrelevant hogwash in the light of what is happening legally. Today and every day. It’s high time we stopped obsessing about nighthawking and acknowledged that despite the much vaunted positives, in net terms the “voluntary reporting” experiment has been a disaster painted as a triumph – one which in 18 years no country on earth has been foolish enough to replicate. The only sensible action remaining is to come clean and put things right. See our (conservative) estimate of the damage so far here. Hey New PAS, how about speaking out?

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