“Heritage Watch” has just published the standard definition of Heritage Crime in which the only reference to metal detecting is “unauthorised excavation and metal detecting (also known as night hawking)” thereby obscuring the reality. The commonest (and most damaging) heritage crime relating to metal detecting is surely telling a farmer you took finds home without showing him as they were of no value when they were – and then covering your tracks by not reporting it to PAS.
Lest anyone thinks that’s not a heritage crime here are the bits from the Heritage Watch definition that fit it like a glove:
“any offence which targets the historic environment”
“crimes against cultural property”
and “theft of historical and cultural property”
(to which you could add fraud and obtaining money under false pretences.)
Lest anyone thinks it’s not widespread, this question hangs in the air: why does almost every finds agreement (including the “model” ones offered by the detecting bodies) fail to contain this simple, respectable clause: “I the detectorist will take nothing home without first showing it to the landowner”. It’s time Britain woke up. (Or more accurately, stopped pretending it’s not happening.)