May 21 2013 Latest news:
Friday, June 22, 2012
Museum bosses have today warned they are powerless to stop determined or violent thieves, despite efforts to tighten security across Norfolk’s attractions.
An internal review into security at Norwich Castle was carried out after artefacts belonging to Lord Nelson worth £36,000 were stolen and thieves attempted to steal a rhino horn.
Officials have spent around £15,000 making improvements, including upgrading CCTV, locks and alarms, with the report having noted the security of several display cases in Norfolk’s museums were not up to standard.
Only a summary of the review has been released as officials believe the document would be a “guide book to thieves” if it fell into the wrong hands.
Further security changes are planned, although no cost has yet to be finalised.
Councillors today questioned Vanessa Trevelyan, head of the museums service, in an attempt to get assurances Norfolk’s valuable artefacts were being protected.
Asked how confident she was similar thefts would not happen again, Mrs Trevelyan said: “That’s a very hard question. I’m confident because I think we have double-checked all our systems and double-checked all our cases.
“At the end of the day, if someone is absolutely determined and they find a new way of doing it, it’s very difficult to pre-empt that.”
Mrs Trevelyan cited the theft of the Wenlok Jug from a Luton museum, in which the valuable medieval artefact was still taken despite being held in a high-security cabinet.
She said: “You can do everything in your power to prevent something happening and it will still happen. I think there’s no end to the cunning of people who really want to or, in some cases, use violence to get what they want.
“One of the problems we have with museums is we are not Fort Knox. We want people to come and enjoy the collections. Some will be in cases, some on open display - we don’t want people looking through bars. There has to be trust with the public.”
The report also recommended more volunteers should be used, a move welcomed today by the friends of the museums.
Barry Stone, cabinet member for cultural services, said: “Even though it was incredibly unfortunate we did have these thefts taking place, it was a useful wake-up call and, as with many things in life, it reminds us we are not perfect and we need to review what we are doing.”