Historic England have commissioned MSDS Marine to develop two products for forensically marking protected wreck sites. Both products will be capable of being used by enforcement agencies to establish if artefacts have come from a particular wreck and if divers have been in contact with that wreck. These methods are currently undergoing testing and development and will be trialled on four protected wreck sites in Spring 2019.
The aims of the project are three-fold:
- Through the effective dissemination of the protective marking scheme the criminal fraternity will be more cautious as the awareness of the chances of being captured will increase. This applies to not only to the conspirators and recoverees but also the onward chain including the final ‘owner’, be this a private individual, scrap metal dealers, etc. The protective marking scheme will provide an effective deterrent that stops criminals carrying out a crime.
- Through the effective engagement of the local community including recreational divers, town councils, harbour authorities, marina users, community archaeology groups and others the awareness of this type of heritage crime will be increased. An increase in awareness can lead to an increase in vigilance and the reporting of suspicious or unusual behaviour. With more intelligence being fed to the authorities the risk of being captured is again increased.
- Through the effective development and implementation of a marking scheme for underwater wreck material the chances of being prosecuted will increase. An effective marking scheme will intrinsically link the recovered wreck material to the site from which it originated and those involved to the wreck material and/or site.
The project will use the following hashtags as appropriate; #HeritageCrime, #MarineMetalTheft, #MetalTheft, #OpCrucible and #ProtectedWreck.
We are really excited about this project as it represents a fantastic opportunity to tackle heritage crime on the protected wreck sites in future.