A new scheme that aims to protect the county’s thousands of historical sites, monuments and artefacts from heritage and cultural property crime has been launched today.

Hertfordshire Constabulary, with the support of English Heritage and Hertfordshire County Council, is today launching Heritage Watch to the public.

Heritage Watch has been introduced at key heritage sites and museums across Hertfordshire by the local chief inspectors. In Watford, Chief Inspector Dave Wheatley teamed up with heritage site St Mary’s Church in Watford - an 800 year old church that dates back to medieval times - to introduce the scheme to the area.

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

Through the scheme, the constabulary hopes to further 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.

The constabulary’s chief constable, Andy Bliss, is the national policing lead for heritage crime and cultural property.

He said: "Tackling heritage and cultural property crime is something I take an active interest in, not only because I am the national policing lead, but also because I feel it is important to protect Hertfordshire’s historical and cultural assets for future generations.

"People who live close to historical sites and those who have a real interest in our local history tend to frequent the county’s areas of historical interest more often and are therefore likely to notice anything suspicious or out of the ordinary.

"Through joining Heritage Watch, we hope the public will become the ‘eyes and ears’ of these precious sites and artefacts and report anything suspicious to us."

Police and Crime Commissioner for Hertfordshire, David Lloyd said: "Hertfordshire boasts thousands of beautiful heritage sites and assets and I am keen to support anything that aims to protect them for generations to come."

Greg Luton, planning director for English Heritage for the East of England, said: "Heritage Watch is another important step forward towards solving heritage crime which robs us of our shared history.

"This initiative has shown the enthusiasm and commitment from Hertfordshire Police, local authorities and the communities of Hertfordshire to establish local networks, which is the most important part of the project. This is where the real difference can be made."