Burglary at heritage sites now classed as an "aggravated offence."
Inspector Reubin Palin, All-Wales Heritage Lead from Dyfed Powys Police Rural Crime Team writes:-
Earlier this year the Sentencing Council published details of the consultation response which helped shape the new sentencing guideline for burglary offences:
We were aware that the Council had accepted the argument, put forward by Historic England on behalf of the ARCH Partnership, that burglaries relating to the theft of heritage assets and cultural property should be identified as an aggravating factor in the sentencing process. However, the rationale for acceptance was not so clear. I am pleased to report that the Sentencing Council have now published the responses to the consultation. See below:
Historic England in their response suggested that there should be reference to the loss of cultural or heritage assets resulting from these offences within the harm factors. They stated that the harm caused can be high because they are finite, irreplaceable and often unique resources that belong to the community, forming part of the nation’s history. They point to the harm factor within the theft guideline of ‘damage to heritage assets’ and the aggravating factor within criminal damage of ‘damage caused to heritage and/or cultural assets.’ They requested that the guideline specifically includes a harm factor of - ‘Loss or damage caused to heritage and/or cultural assets.’
The Council agreed that there should be a reference to loss or damage to cultural assets within the harm factors so has amended the factors to read:
Category one • Theft of/damage to property causing a substantial degree of loss to the victim (whether economic, commercial, cultural or of personal value)
Category two • Theft of/damage to property causing a moderate degree of loss to the victim (whether economic, commercial, cultural or of personal value)
Category three • Nothing stolen or only property of low value to the victim (whether economic, commercial, cultural or of personal value)
It is now clear that the guideline will apply to ‘Loss or damage caused to heritage and/or cultural assets.’
This is a significant step forward, but at present there is now automated system to identify the heritage designation for reporting and recording processes. The geographical data is readily-available and we would be very keen to explore ideas.
The guideline relates to domestic, non-domestic and aggravated burglary and attempted offences.
The guideline complements the guidelines for Theft and Handling Stolen Goods; and, Criminal Damage and Arson which already highlighted the harm factor to heritage and cultural assets.
The guideline will assist the Courts in cases relating to offences that take place in historic sites and buildings; museums; and; galleries.
Full details can be found on the Sentencing Council website