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General06 March 2023

Kent Heritage Watch Conference 2023: Summary

On 16th January 2023 delegates from heritage sites across England, heritage crime prevention organisations, security firms and conservation agencies met at Leeds Castle to discuss ‘Protecting our Heritage’ for the 2023 Kent Heritage Watch Conference. Here’s a summary of the day:

Opening up the conference Helen Bonser-Wilton, CEO of Leeds Castle enthralled delegates with a potted history of the 900-year-old Castle which has been mainly under female ownership for the past century. Over the years Leeds Castle is not so familiar with battles as for gigantic house parties. Today the Leeds Castle Foundation hopes to engage visitors with the new interpretation of the Lady Baillie era with an immersive experience.

Adrian Harper, CEO of Kent Police and Crime Commissioner’s Office commended Kelvin Wood and the Kent Heritage Watch Committee on their achievements to collaborate and communicate bringing stakeholders together.

Tobias Newman of Fortecho Artefact Protection engaged delegates with a presentation on smart technology for asset protection. Fortecho protects art in the national gallery and museums from theft and environmental threats of temperature and humidity changes. This generated much discussion on how to protect some of the smaller heritage sites within Kent and is a topic for future discussion.

Emma Dadson of Harwell Restoration discussed ‘what if the worst happens’ and techniques for salvage operations. Effective emergency response, the importance of operation objectives, assessing resources both in house and off site, the security of decanted collections were all highlighted. Fire and Rescue Team Training Days were suggested including considering reputational damage during a salvage operation.

Paul Humphris of Ecclesiastical Insurance outlined how insurance responds to damage to heritage buildings and what to consider when taking out cover. Ensuring appropriate cover is in place to reinstate / replace damage with modern yet sympathetic measures to the heritage look is key. Also consider disaster recovery specialists to recover losses from negligent third parties during a claim.

Laraine Grant, Counter Terrorist Security Manager updated delegates on PALs (Publicly Accessible Locations) and Crowded Places with an update on Murphy’s Law which affects venues hosting large events to be responsible for improved measures to protect the public. This is due to become law in 3 to 5 years and forms part of the UK Protect Duty. Download the Protect UK app for more and subscribe to the latest ACT e-learning and ACT awareness courses.

Shawn Hoare, Independent Fire Risk Surveyor, explained how over 30 years in the fire service has taught him Heritage Buildings are not covered by standard legislation for Fire Systems. Creating fire compartments to contain fire to evacuate and save lives are solutions learned through experience. Shawn drew on examples at large heritage sites such as Canterbury Cathedral to demonstrate methods undertaken.

Kent Heritage Watch Chair Kelvin Wood welcomed Bill Cockcroft, Deputy Lord Lieutenant Maidstone to launch the new WhatsApp Group live from the conference. This communication group will encourage fasters communication of key information and news to Kent Heritage Watch members as an extension of the Heritage Watch Helpline emails. To request access to the WhatsApp group email

Mark Harrison of Historic England outlined how the organisation is developing and delivering new and innovative approaches to prevent crime and anti-social behaviour in and around Heritage sites.
Through his continued work Mark has persuaded 25 per cent of all Police Crime Commissioners to adopt Heritage Asset Crime plans. The future aim is 75 per cent.
Thank you to our conference sponsors without whom the event would not be possible:
Leeds Castle, SQR, Ecclesiastical Insurance and Brook Security.

Thank you also to our exhibitors Brook Security, Ecclesiastical, Fortecho, SQR and Ward Security who continue to support the Kent Heritage Watch helpline.

Finally, thank you to each of our speakers and the Kent Heritage Watch Committee for your continued efforts and support to protect our heritage.