Joining the police, English Heritage & the CPS
The council is poised to sign up to a new initiative that aims to tackle crimes and anti-social behaviour that damage the borough’s historic environment.
Wandsworth is set to join a nationwide network of bodies, including English Heritage, the police and the Crown Prosecution Service that are committed to tackling crimes against historic buildings.
By joining the Alliance to Reduce Crime against Heritage (ARCH) the council hopes to send out a strong signal that anyone involved in criminal activities that affect the borough's historically and architecturally important buildings and structures will be brought to account.
The most common offences of this type include theft, particularly of metals like copper, lead and bronze, vandalism, graffiti and arson.
Recent incidents in the borough include the theft of bronze war memorials and lead from the roofs of churches, community halls and the chapel at Putney Vale crematorium.
Wandsworth is believed to be the first London borough to signal its intention to join ARCH. The move is being backed by the borough's Heritage Champion Cllr Vanessa Graham, who has pledged to do all she can to protect and preserve the local historic environment. Cllr Graham said:
"Wandsworth is blessed with many architecturally and historically important buildings. There are around 500 designated statutory listed buildings of interest to the nation, a similar number on our list of local heritage assets, 237 war memorials and six registered historic parks and gardens, so we have much to protect and treasure - but also conversely - much that could be at risk from criminal behaviour.
"War memorials are often stolen and melted down, while churches and other historic buildings across the country have suffered in recent years from a spate of thefts. Insurance claims to cover the theft of lead from church roofs are now running at twenty times the number they were in 2005.
"Unfortunately many of the crimes that are committed against historic or listed buildings leave an indelible scar or blemish and deny future generations the chance to enjoy fine architecture or in the case of war memorials, the opportunity to pay homage to the sacrifices of their forefathers. That is why we plan to join ARCH and work with the police, CPS, English Heritage, other conservation bodies and local communities to deter and tackle the criminals who rob us of our valuable historical legacy."
Baroness Andrews, Chair of English Heritage, said:
"Heritage crime robs us of our history. Its effect on our lives is insidious and felt often too late. Beautiful buildings are scarred forever, places we treasure and enjoy lose their identity and appeal, evidence about our past is lost and tourism suffers, not to mention the burden on owners to repair and put things right. Society needs to work together to combat these criminal activities."
August 8, 2011