Heritage organisations are becoming an increasing target of graffiti, anti-social behaviour, and verbal abuse, according to new research.

A survey of 500 heritage decision makers from museums, galleries, stately homes and castles found that 32% had suffered anti-social behaviour in the past year, up 3% on the previous year. Three in 10 had reported experiencing verbal abuse towards staff and volunteers from visitors, up 4%.

The research, commissioned by specialist heritage insurer Ecclesiastical, suggests heritage organisations are now expecting an increase in crime over the next year, with seven in 10 “more concerned about crime than ever before”.

A majority (94%) of heritage organisations report having had to deal with “challenging visitor behaviour” during the past year, and almost half have suffered littering, which has increased 12% in the past year. Just under half reported rude or aggressive behaviour from visitors towards staff or volunteers, which has increased by 5%.

While specific types of crime have increased, overall, heritage organisations experienced 1% less crime than in the previous year, taking the figure to 90%.

Faith Kitchen, customer segment director at Ecclesiastical Insurance, said: “There are a number of measures heritage organisations can take to better secure property and assets, which would ideally be a combination of both physical and electronic protection. Reviewing perimeter security arrangements, ensuring entry points are well lit and secured can often offer a good first line of defence against unwanted visitors, while CCTV can act as a visual deterrent for those not wanting to be caught on camera.”


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