Crimestoppers urges Falkirk residents to tackle heritage vandals

Culture secretary Fiona Hyslop was at Callendar House this week for the launch of the Scottish Heritage Crime Group
Culture secretary Fiona Hyslop was at Callendar House this week for the launch of the Scottish Heritage Crime Group

Fire-raising, metal theft and illicit trade in antiques are among crimes being committed at heritage sites - and Crimestoppers is appealing for public help.

The call comes at the same time as the launch this week of the Scottish Heritage Crime Group at Falkirk’s Callendar House, attended by culture secretary Fiona Hyslop.

One unconfirmed but normally reliable report suggests an attempt was recently made to remove a commemorative plate at a landmark Falkirk site, while a would-be thief is said to have tried to unscrew and remove a metal plate from the monument at the battlefield of Sheriffmuir.

These are “routine” attempts at metal theft, but some sites are also prone to the sort of vandalism that is hard to remedy.

The Falkirk-based heritage group the Society of John de Graeme successfully restored and replaced an iconic Lion of Scotland which vandals had wrenched from the monument in Victoria Park - but the skilled work needed was labour-intensive and tricky.

At the late medieval St Anthony’s Chapel in Holyrood Park graffiti was spray-painted on to the wall, leaving the authorities with a difficult and time-consuming task - and sometimes it is not possible to clean graffiti entirely.

The Crimestoppers campaign - in partnership with the Scottish Heritage Crime Group - aims to increase awareness of heritage crime and encourage the public to get in touch anonymously.

Postcards and posters will be shared across Scotland’s key heritage sites, coupled with a social media campaign depicting criminal damage to historic sites and buildings.

Crimestoppers’ national manager for Scotland, Angela Parker, said: “Often, people will know who’s involved in committing a crime, so we urge anyone who has information to contact us 100 per cent anonymously.

“We do not take personal details and we can’t trace information given to us by phone or online.

“No-one will ever know you contacted us.

“We’re a charity that gives people the power to speak up to stop crime. We won’t ask for any personal details including your name.

“When you hang up the phone (0800 555 111) or click ‘send’ you’re done. No police, no witness statements or courts.”

If you have any information about someone involved in heritage crime, the number to call is 0800 555 111.