HISTORIC ENGLAND has updated its advice to the organisers and congregations of historic places of worship facing metal theft from roofs.
Historic England regulates the replacement of stolen roofs and the materials which can be used, normally requiring like-for-like replacements. However, in the case of places of worship, there are sometimes repeated incidences of theft. Often it’s the congregations of these religious buildings that face meeting the costs of recurrent crime.
Historic England says it fully appreciates the frustration and distress caused by crimes affecting historic places of worship, particularly metal theft.
When lead or copper roof coverings have been stolen, the organisation says it understands it may be too risky to replace with the same materials. Instead, it says it has found that the most appropriate and long-lasting alternative is terne-coated stainless steel (TCSS).
In some circumstances, natural slates or clay tiles may be suitable alternatives, if they are historically, geologically and technically appropriate. A well-detailed design, good specification and experienced contractors are key to ensuring the performance of the replacement roof covering.
Historic England Metal Theft Suite of Advice Notes
Historic England advice notes set out its response to lead theft, which continues to affect historic parish churches:
This note is addressed to those who carry the responsibility for replacing stolen church roofs. It is intended to give maximum clarity to congregations that are considering alternative roofing materials and replaces our 2017 metal theft advice note.
It deals mainly with replacing lead and copper roofs on historic churches but also applies to other buildings with traditional metal roofs.
Church Roof Replacement Using Terne-coated Stainless Steel
A technical guidance note about using terne-coated stainless steel for church roofs to address commonly raised questions. It collates current best advice for construction of new fully supported stainless steel roofing to replace stolen lead on historic churches.
Historic England actively works with police forces, the Crown Prosecution Service and local authorities to share information and identify, arrest and punish metal thieves. The organisation encourages parishes to help by undertaking appropriate preventative measures and to ensure that all heritage crime is reported to the police.
The new advice note is addressed to congregations and deals with preventing theft, dealing with the immediate impact and helping the police to get a conviction. It replaces the 2017 metal theft advice note.