AUTHORITIEs are to declare war on hooligans and thieves who vandalise Doncaster’s historic monuments.
The borough has seen a string of high profile crimes against some of its best known landmarks, ranging from historic churches to the borough’s main war memorial.
Now a deal has been signed by which will see Docnaster Council, police, lawyers and and English Heritage work more closely together to stop the damage, and prosecute those who carry it out.
Doncaster Council is the first area in South Yorkshire, and the first metropolitan borough to sign up to a new national initiative to tackle heritage crime, by signing an agreement called a Heritage Crime Enforcement memorandum.
The borough has also joined the Alliance to Reduce Crime against Heritage - a network launched by English Heritage to spread anti-crime information to official bodies, heritage organisations such as the National Trust, Church of England and local community groups.
Heritage crime is defined as ‘any offence which harms the value of heritage assets and their settings to this and future generations’.
Examples include the theft of lead from churches, architectural theft, illegal metal detecting, unlawful alteration and damage to listed buildings, damage to monuments, arson, graffiti, substance abuse and other forms of anti-social behaviour.
Within the Doncaster there are a range of designated heritage sites including 51 scheduled monuments, 790 listed buildings, 46 conservation
areas as well as four registered parks and gardens.
Mayor Peter Davies said: “Protecting the environment from decay and architectural vandalism, as well as reducing crime, are top priorities for me.
Like many areas around the country Doncaster has an issue with Heritage Crime but the council and its partners are working hard to combat the criminals. This new commitment builds on initiatives such as the Safer Doncaster Partnership’s successful Metal Theft Theme Group.”
Trevor Mitchell, English Heritage planning and conservation director for Yorkshire, said: “It’s excellent news that Doncaster has signed up to this scheme.
“Not only is it the first South Yorkshire authority to take part but also the first Metropolitan Borough in the whole of England. We hope that this encourages other authorities to join and we look forward to working with Doncaster to combat the threat of heritage crime.”
High profile cases of heritage crime in Doncaster have included items being stolen by burglars from both Brodsworth Hall Cusworth Hall Museum.
It has also seen theft of lead from the roof of Church of St Lawrence Hatfield and Cusworth Hall and Hickleton Hall.
Vandals have also caused damage to the sword at the war memorial at the entrance to Elmfield Park, thieves tried to steal the metal plate listed names on Conisbrough war memorial.
In addition, a number of listed milestones can no longer be located.