A NEW scheme to protect Devon and Cornwall’s many heritage sites by encouraging people to report suspicious activity has just been launched.

Heritage Watch is being managed by Devon & Cornwall Police with Devon and Cornwall Community Watch Association (DACCWA) and Historic England.

The force’s rural affairs officer PC Julian Fry said: ‘Heritage crime is any offence that harms the value of heritage assets and their settings, such as ancient archaeological sites, churches, historic shipwrecks, stately homes and castles. 

‘ It can include arson, criminal damage, theft, unlawful salvage from historic shipwrecks and the trade in illicit cultural objects. 

‘With around 35,000 designated heritage assets in Devon and Cornwall and many more remaining undesignated or simply waiting to be discovered, we want to protect the past for our future and by joining the scheme, people can do that.’

The watch encourages people to report and share information on suspicious behaviour.

They will also be invited to crime awareness events run by DACCWA and Devon & Cornwall Police and receive alerts on heritage crimes or suspicious behaviour in their area.

Historic England’s chief executive, Duncan Wilson, said: ‘We welcome our colleagues from Devon and Cornwall Police and Devon and Cornwall Community Watch Association as the newest Heritage Watch area in England.

‘By working together with communities and partners across the law enforcement and heritage sectors we can help protect our historic buildings and archaeological sites from the threat of crime and anti-social behaviour and ensure their preservation for future generations to enjoy.’

Sign up at www.alerts.dc.police.uk, choosing ‘Heritage Watch’ under ‘Community Groups’.