Working together to protect war memorials from crooks

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AS we approach Remembrance Day, many readers will no doubt be planning to use local war memorials as the focal point for their commemorations. Unfortunately, in recent years, there has been an increase in the number of thefts from war memorials and so a project to combat this, entitled In Memoriam 2014 is being launched.

War Memorials Trust is the national charity which works to protect and conserve war memorials. It provides advice and information on a range of war memorial issues with particular focus on conservation and encouraging best practice to ensure the long-term preservation of our war memorial heritage.

The trust also administers grants schemes that can assist local communities across the UK repair and conserve their war memorial.

The In Memoriam 2014 project, a partnership between the trust and the SmartWater Foundation, will see the SmartWater crime prevention liquid being offered to all war memorial custodians free of charge in order to deter thieves from targeting war memorials.

SmartWater is a forensic solution which contains a unique chemical code and is only visible under ultraviolet (UV) light. Once applied to a war memorial the liquid is virtually impossible to remove and can withstand burning or melting, making it harder for criminals to dispose of stolen war memorials.

Police forces across the UK are actively searching for traces of SmartWater as a means of positively identifying stolen property and linking criminals back to specific crime scenes. More and more scrap metal dealers are also checking for traces of SmartWater and refusing to handle any items marked with the liquid.

As a regional volunteer for the trust, I am writing to encourage relevant organisations/individuals to apply for the SmartWater liquid by visiting the project website at www.inmemoriam2014.org

War memorial custodians will be required to complete a straightforward application form and will then be issued with the liquid and clear instructions for applying it to the war memorials in their care. The liquid is being offered free of charge and does not have to be applied by a professional so there are no costs involved. In this respect could I ask local authorities and organisations attending this weekend’s Remembrance Services to check and let me know if they feel their memorials with metal plaques and components might be suitable for the treatment described above. Also, of course if any additional general stonework refurbishment is planned or needed during the coming year.

I am sure that your readers will agree that with the growing interest in war memorials, due to current conflicts and the approaching centenary of the First World War, we need to work together to provide protection for our war memorials so that they and the sacrifices they represent are preserved for future generations.

CHARLES CLARK

Ragstone House, Pilsgate, PE9 3HN