Protecting the County's Treasures

Henry Moore Foundation Credit: PA

Now you may have heard of Neighbourhood Watch, but today Heritage Watch is being launched in Hertfordshire.

Police, the local council and English Heritage are calling on the public to help protect the county's cultural and historical sites, like the Henry Moore Foundation in Bishops Stortford, from crimes such as theft or vandalism - so called 'heritage crime.'

Heritage crime is any offence which targets famous natural landmarks, such as cathedrals and ancient battle fields, and cultural property, such as pieces of art, jade and rhino horn.

Police say offences which harm the nation's heritage have become more prevalent in recent years due to the economic downturn. This has led to an increase in metal theft and the illegal trade of historical and cultural assets.

Putting right damage caused to heritage assets is expensive; for example metal theft from ancient monuments leads to repair bills of hundreds of thousands of pounds or they can be irreplaceable.

Through the scheme, police hope they can help protect the county's historical artefacts and heritage sites by improving communication between people who live near these sites, those who have an interest in the county's heritage and the police.