The inaugural meeting of York Heritage Watch was held at the Stained Glass Centre at St Martin Cum Gregory Church, Micklegate, York on Thursday 18th February. The meeting was chaired by Trace-in-Metal managing director John Minary, and was co-hosted by Police Community Support Officer Kayleigh Rae of North Yorkshire Police, York City Centre Policing Team.
(Pictured: Anette Wahlgren, Volunteer Co-Ordinator at the Stained Glass Centre, and Trace-in-Metal Director, along with Kayleigh Rae, from North Yorkshire Police, York City Policing Team, at the door of St Martin Cum Gregory, York).
The meeting brought together representatives from the ‘Heritage’ sector from the historic city and at the meeting they agreed to work together on introducing the scheme to the City of York. The scheme provides an opportunity for stakeholders to share best practice and to improve informal surveillance at heritage sites across the city.
Nationally the Heritage Watch scheme has the support of Historic England, and the Police and Crime Advisor, Mark Harrison voiced his support of the scheme by saying, “Many people realise that heritage crime not only damages protected buildings and archaeological sites, but also affects the quality of life in their local area. We hope that communities across York will come together to form a Heritage Watch network, that will make a real difference and will help us to protect and preserve the area's wonderful heritage for this and for future generations.”
Locally, the motivation behind the introduction of the scheme resulted from a meeting between John Minary and Kayleigh Rae, when a ‘burglar’s tool kit’ was found within the grounds of the Stained Glass Centre. Recognising jointly that even though the City of York is rich in heritage assets, and that the local economy relies heavily on tourism, there was no such scheme in place, and this was seen as an opportunity to improve the safety and security of heritage sites across the city.
Said John Minary, “This wonderful city attracts tourists from around the globe, people who travel here to enjoy the magnificent attractions that we have. There is a definite need for custodians of our heritage to be doing everything they can to protect these places and the staff and volunteers who work within them.”
“York Heritage Watch will provide a hands on platform for the local heritage community to come together to help each other, talk to each other, share news and best practice and improve safety for their sites, their visitors and their hard working staff.”
Kayleigh Rae, said, “Heritage Crime is happening across the City of York, and unfortunately some is going un-reported. Any scheme that seeks to improve information sharing and surveillance must be welcomed. The Heritage Watch scheme will help improve the flow of information as well as giving the heritage community the reassurance that we are doing everything we can to help protect them.”
Ultimately, the scheme is aimed at reducing crime by empowering the local community to improve security at their own sites, and in sharing information and best practise within the group, security awareness will improve. Peoples’ ability to deal with incidents and record information and evidence will also improve and this will assist any investigations, helping to secure convictions and also deter criminals.
Taken together the scheme will lead to reduced crime and call demand and will help improve police community engagement.