Historic England’s advice on metal theft and its aftermath

Historic England has produced a new guide, Metal Theft from Historic Buildings: prevention, response and recovery. Following is a summary of the main points, in a series of verbatim extracts from the guide.



This advice note is for churchwardens, trustees, fabric officers, volunteers and owners who care for historic buildings, especially places of worship. Preventing metal theft, especially from roofs, is the priority but dealing with an attack appropriately is crucial to protect historic buildings and keep them in use.

At Historic England, we recognise the serious impact of metal theft. As well as damage to historic buildings, it causes expense, distress and frustration. Replacement and subsequent insurance can be costly.

The note deals mainly with the of lead roofs from historic churches but the information applies to other types of building and traditional metal. It is an update of our 2011 note, The of Metal from Church Buildings, and reflects our updated advice to those dealing with metal the and how to prevent it.

Historic England’s approach to metal theft

Historic England strongly encourages the use of appropriate and traditional materials for historic buildings, particularly on roofs. Changing the material of a building’s roof could detract enormously from the building’s appearance and significance and mean that it performs less well technically. This is why we start out with the position that like-for-like replacement following theft is highly desirable, with appropriate security measures.

Traditional metals, including sand-cast and rolled lead sheet, are regarded as the most appropriate for covering historic buildings due to the following reasons: Continue reading

Lead theft – future threats in parishes and parliament

The need for awareness at local and national level of the potential threats

The recent Archdeacons’ News, Bulletin no. 20 December 2016 included an alert which warned of the heightened potential for the theft of lead from church roofs as a result of its increased scrap value. Coupled with this is the possibility that the on-going government review of the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013 will reignite the pressure by some MPs to seek its the repeal of the Act or certain of its provisions – a possibility raised by the review. Continue reading