Heritage Crime

Heritage Crime

Heritage crime is any offence which harms the value of heritage assets and their settings. Heritage assets are sites that are considered to have a value to the heritage of England and include listed buildings, scheduled monuments, World Heritage Sites, conservation areas, protected marine sites, registered battle fields, military crash sites and even sites which may be undesignated but acknowledged as important. In addition, there are a wide range of heritage assets that are not designated, but are familiar to us and valued by local people, for example, churches, metal railings, village pumps, bollards, and sandstone walls.  


Unlawful metal detecting, referred to as nighthawking, is a type of a heritage crime that Derbyshire is vulnerable to due to the rich heritage of the county. The removal of any object from land without the landowner’s permission may amount to an offence of theft. It is also an offence to metal detect on a scheduled monument without a licence or to fail to report the discovery of potential items of treasure. Because they are stolen property, the finders are unlikely to report their finds and valuable historical data is lost for good. 

Prevention Advice

Historic England has a lot of prevention advice available across their web pages.

For background on the general nature of heritage crime and national and local strategies for tackling it please see the heritage crime web pages HERE.

They have published an advice guide for those who care for heritage assets, including owners, tenants, managers, and voluntary groups. It sets out 25 broadly applicable techniques of crime prevention, with guidance on the ways in which they might be used to prevent or deter heritage crime in particular.

This guide is part of a suite of guides to help people reduce the threat of crime to England’s historic buildings and sites This is available to view and download HERE.

Reporting a Heritage Crime

Heritage crime should be reported to the police.

Make a report to Derbyshire Constabulary through the online ‘Report a Crime’ portal HERE. or by calling 101.

In an emergency, always call 999.

If you think the property is a designated heritage asset (for example, a listed building or scheduled monument) contact your Local Authority’s Conservation Department to ensure they’re aware of any damage to the asset. Historic England’s local offices may also be able to help, particularly in the case of scheduled monuments.

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