Cultural Heritage: Theft

Home Office written question – answered on 11th March 2015.

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Photo of Frank Dobson Frank Dobson Labour, Holborn and St Pancras

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she is taking to identify and prosecute any British citizens or residents for possession of or trafficking in historic artefacts stolen from Iraq or Syria.

Photo of James Brokenshire James Brokenshire Minister of State (Home Office) (Security and Immigration)

Holding answer received on 10 March 2015

UN and EU sanctions prohibiting trade in illegally removed Iraqi and Syrian cultural property are implemented in UK legislation.

The Dealing in Cultural Objects (Offences) Act 2003 makes it an offence if a person dishonestly deals in a cultural objects that are tainted, knowing or believing that the object is tainted. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has issued guidelines for collectors, auctioneers and dealers in antiquities, and for museums in making acquisitions, to the effect that anyone suspected of dealing dishonestly in tainted cultural property should be reported to the police, so that appropriate enforcement activity can be


If Border Force identify an item that they suspect is a tainted cultural object they may seize it using customs powers (if applicable) or section 19 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. Any such seized items are handed to the National Crime Agency or the relevant police force for investigation.

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