Heritage prosecutions
Heritage prosecutions

The following Corporate Crime practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Heritage prosecutions
  • Offences against heritage property
  • Unlawful alterations and damage to listed buildings
  • Prosecuting decisions and best practice
  • Penalties on conviction for heritage offences

Offences against heritage property

Heritage crime is defined as 'any offence which harms the value of heritage assets and their settings for this and future generations'. Heritage assets include:

  1. ancient monuments

  2. listed buildings

  3. buildings in conservation areas

  4. designated cemeteries

  5. conservation areas

  6. registered parks and gardens

  7. registered battlefields

  8. protected military remains of aircraft and vessels of historic interest, and

  9. undesignated but acknowledged buildings and sites of heritage significance

Heritage crime which may be prosecuted as various offences, including:

  1. theft of metals such as lead and copper from churches and other historic buildings

  2. architectural theft (see Theft)

  3. illegal metal detecting which involves trespass on private land

  4. unlawful alterations and damage to listed buildings

  5. criminal damage to monuments (see Criminal damage)

  6. arson (see Arson)

  7. graffiti (see Criminal damage)

  8. substance abuse and other forms of anti-social behaviour

The law on payment for scrap metal has been tightened to prevent profiteering from the theft of metal from historic sites.

Section 12 of SMDA 2013 re-enacts with modifications the amendments made by section 146 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012, which inserted section 3A into the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 1964, creating the offence of purchasing scrap metal for cash. The offence applies to all scrap metal dealers. SMDA 2013, s 12 prohibits scrap metal dealers from paying for scrap metal other than by cheque or by electronic transfer.


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