In the region of 91% of heritage organisations have fallen victim to crime in the last 12 months, added the specialist insurer

Over four fifths (82%) of heritage organisations would benefit from more crime and security risk guidance from an insurance broker or insurer, according to new research published by specialist insurer Ecclesiastical today (24 October 2022).

Ecclesiastical’s customer segment director Faith Kitchen said that “heritage organisations are a prime target for criminals as many house priceless art and antiques”.

As a result, brokers can “play an important role in helping heritage clients understand the risks they are facing in ensuring they have the right cover in place”, she added.

The insurer’s research also revealed that 91% of heritage organisations have experienced a crime in the last 12 months – up from 81% in February and March 2021.

Trespassing was the top crime reported during the past year (31%), followed by anti-social behaviour (29%), criminal damage (26%) and theft of contents (27%).

Around 26% experienced verbal abuse towards staff and volunteers from visitors, while a further 26% reported physical abuse.

Crime over the past 12 months has cost heritage organisations more than £60,000 on average.

Ecclesiastical’s research surveyed 500 decision makers from UK heritage organisations between 29 July and 16 August 2022. The sample included 100 museums, 100 theatres, 100 castles, 100 stately homes and 100 galleries.

Kitchen said: “There are a number of measures heritage organisations can take to better secure property and assets, which would ideally be a combination of both physical and electronic protection.

“Reviewing perimeter security arrangements and ensuring entry points are well lit and secured can often offer a good first line of defence against unwanted visitors, while CCTV can act as a visual deterrent for those not wanting to be caught on camera.”

In terms of crime prevention, 96% of respondents have introduced new measures to deter criminals over the past year.

Approximately 58% have invested in CCTV, 47% in security guards and patrols, 41% in security lighting, 41% in alarms and 38% in security fencing.

Three quarters (77%) of those surveyed, however, believed their organisation needed to do more to prevent crime.

Publication of Ecclesiastical’s research follows thieves stealing three paintings worth more than £10m from Christ Church Picture Gallery during March 2020, which are still missing, as reported in the Oxford Mail (March 2021/22).