Is murder only murder if it happens during a burglary? Of course not, yet Britain’s heritage protection laws are as irrational as that. Here’s why:

Heritage Crime is defined as “any offence which harms the value of heritage assets”. Hence, if you’re nighthawking (an offence) and therefore don’t report what you’ve taken, you harm the value of heritage assets and are guilty of a heritage crime. But if you then go to the farm next door and get permission to detect (no offence) and then fail to report what you find you’ll harm the value of heritage assets just as much yet you’ve not committed a heritage crime!

There’s been no crime committed Watson – the culprit had permission to be here!

A very British muddle, eh? And one that’s pretty much unique to us: harming the value of heritage assets is only a heritage crime if you’re trespassing! (We think there’s been a small step towards rectifying it though – see this space on Monday).


More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting