The first comprehensive survey looking at the scale and effect of crime on England’s historic buildings has been carried out.The study, carried out for English Heritage, was led by Professor Mike Coombes and David Bradley, from the Centre for Urban and Regional Development Studies (CURDS).
They looked at ‘heritage crime’, which is defined as any offence which harms the value of England's heritage assets and their settings to this and future generations.
The research, carried out with Bradley Research, Loughborough University and the Council of British Archaeology, found criminal damage is the most frequently experienced heritage crime with 70,000 buildings physically harmed in the previous 12 months. Of those, 30,000 suffered significant damage. It also discovered that grade I listed buildings were the worst affected. Churches and other religious buildings faced the greatest risk with three in eight damaged last year.
The study also showed metal theft is the single biggest threat to historic buildings, with around 5.3% of listed buildings affected by it. However, this nearly trebles for churches with 14.3% affected. Metal theft is also more prevalent in the North.
David Bradley said: “Heritage buildings are very susceptible to irreversible harm and their value to society and particular vulnerability warrants every effort to ensure they are still around for future generations to enjoy just as much as we enjoy them now.”
published on: 30 March 2012