Investigating heritage crime

Thursday, 03 March, 2011

A senior Kent Police officer has been instrumental in leading a national agreement on how police forces and partner agencies investigate heritage crime.

Chief Inspector Mark Harrison has helped launch the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between police, English Heritage, the Crown Prosecution
Service and participating local authorities.

Working alongside partner agencies, the memorandum aims to improve understanding of heritage crime and create more opportunities to charge and prosecute individuals for heritage offences.

Chief Inspector Harrison said: "Crimes and anti-social behaviour that damage Kent's historic
environment will for the first time be investigated in a much more co-ordinated way. Kent Police, and forces around the country, are working on a local level with local communities and
local neighbourhood policing teams encouraging communities to protect their heritage.'

Chief Inspector Harrison said: 'The damage or removal of objects and artefacts from the historic environment without permission or the necessary reporting is not only a criminal offence, but removes the opportunity for present and future generations to gain an understanding of their past. We take this very seriously.'

Chief Inspector Harrison has been on secondment with English Heritage since March 2010. Since he started, he has gained the support of colleagues at the Association of Chief Police
Officers on the subject, particularly Lincolnshire Chief Constable Richard Crompton. He has also established a policing group, which undertook the first national assessment of heritage crime in 2010.

Mark's advisory role is funded by English Heritage, and is to develop better working practices and information sharing between the police, local authorities and English Heritage. In addition to this, he helps to train and advise police officers and practitioners on techniques to be used during search warrants, and how best to preserve forensic recovery of evidence as both criminal and historical evidence. Professional archaeologists Dr Andrew Richardson and Michele Johnson are volunteers with Kent Police and join the team to help with identification of finds. They have already worked with, Kent, Hertfordshire, Sussex and Hampshire police forces, sharing their expertise.

The southeast has the second highest number of listed buildings in the UK, with 76,201 properties.

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