Church launches Heritage Watch

It follows reports of our parishes being forced to fork out hundreds of thousands of pounds in repairs. sometimes the damage to these historic buildings can never be fixed.

Heritage Watch sees the local police force working with the council and English Heritage to try and stop criminals in their tracks. It's also encouraging volunteers to report crimes or any behaviour they believe could lead to trouble.

The launch took place at one of the county's 5,600 heritage sites - St John the Baptist's Church in Chester. The Rector of Chester, Reverend David Chesters, said vandalism to the church, including broken windows and graffiti has cost his Parish £12,000 in repairs.

"What they don't realise, is that half the time they're damaging their own heritage," he said.

Simon Thurley, from English Heritage, said the properties affected were "the sorts of buildings which commemorate things that are important in people's lives", adding: "I think that's a really low-down, mean thing to do". He also revealed his own home had been targeted with lead piping which had been there since the 1700's being snatched just a few weeks ago.

The watch is the first of its kind in the country and it's hoped it'll be rolled out in other historic cities including Edinburgh.