Heritage Crime

Heritage crime is any unlawful activity which harms historic assets including buildings, monuments, parks, gardens and landscapes.

Graffiti on a monument (© Maurice Pullin)

Graffiti on a monument (© Maurice Pullin)

Some of these assets are protected by specific criminal offences but heritage crime often takes the form of ‘general’ offences such as theft, criminal damage, anti-social behaviour which are equally damaging to historic assets and interfere with the public’s understanding and enjoyment of them.  

If you are concerned about crime affecting historic buildings or monuments or other sites in Wales, whether generally or in relation to a particular place, the information below provides advice on what is being done about the problem and what action you can take yourself. 

If you are aware of a crime currently taking place, please telephone the police immediately on 999. 

Relevant Legislation

Whilst heritage crime can make many different forms, there is specific legislation in place which makes it an offence to undertake certain activities on historic sites. For example, under Section 2(2) of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979, it is an offence to undertake the following, without the consent of Welsh Ministers:

  • any works resulting in the demolition or destruction of or any damage to a scheduled monument, this would include, for example, the illegal use of metal detectors;
  • any works for the purpose of removing or repairing a scheduled monument or any part of it or making any alteration or addition thereto;
  • any flooding or tipping operations on land in, on or under which there is a scheduled monument.

If you are concerned that a recent incident has taken place which has damaged a historic asset, please telephone 101 to report the incident to the police.  

Subsequent Action to Consider 

If you think the property is a listed building, contact your Local Authority Conservation department to ensure it is aware of any damage that has been caused to the asset.

If you think the property is a scheduled monument, contact Cadw to ensure it is aware of any damage that has been caused to the asset. 

Be prepared to provide a witness statement to the police as part of any formal police action as a result of the incident. 

If any formal action is taken you may also be asked to provide an impact statement by the police to ensure the full impact of the incident on the community and the heritage value is considered as part of the sentencing. 

Metal theft

The theft of metal from historic buildings, and particularly places of worship, has been a growing problem in recent years. 

English Heritage has produced guidance (which is endorsed by Cadw). The guidance provides advice on how to protect lead from theft, as well as offering guidance and practical information on how to respond when a theft has taken place.