A campaign to locate, log, and protect thousands of war memorials across the UK using cutting edge forensic technology, has recently been launched.

The nation’s estimated 100,000 war memorials are under increasing threat from thieves and vandals attempting to steal metal from monuments. Despite the metal having relatively little monetary value, it is estimated that on average one war memorial a week is being targeted by thieves looking to illegally remove bronze, copper, or other metals to sell on for scrap.

In Memoriam 2014 is a partnership between War Memorials Trust and the SmartWater Foundation. The partnership, which is working towards marking the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War in 2014, seeks to offer greater protection to war memorials across the UK. It aims to prevent anymore communities witnessing the desecration of their memorials.

To combat the threat of theft each monument will be forensically marked with SmartWater, assigning them with a state-of-the-art forensic signature that can only be seen under UV light. Once applied SmartWater is virtually impossible to remove and can withstand burning, sand blasting and long term exposure to UV. Furthermore if a thief attempts to remove SmartWater they risk inadvertently spreading forensic evidence onto their clothes and any tools they are using. This can be used by Police to link them directly to the crime scene.

War Memorials Trust’s Director, Frances Moreton, said: ‘In Memoriam 2014 is a very special project to protect war memorials in communities across the UK. War Memorials Trust seeks to both protect and conserve this unique part of our national heritage and it is delighted to be involved. The Trust encourages everyone to take an active interest and ensure the custodians of your local war memorials are taking advantage of this wonderful opportunity to protect war memorials free of charge.’

Sir Keith Povey QPM, Chairman of the SmartWater Foundation, said: ‘As the centenary of the First World War approaches, In Memoriam 2014 encourages communities to reconnect with their local war memorials and remember the sacrifice that so many people made for their country. The SmartWater Foundation is pleased to be partnering with War Memorials Trust in this project and I hope that the community will embrace it by taking an interest in locating and preserving these symbols of our commemoration.’

The dramatic increase in the price of metals such as copper has been caused by soaring demand around the world, but especially in nations such as China. Metal theft is currently estimated to be costing the UK economy in excess of £700m every year. Cash-strapped local authorities are paying out hundreds of thousands of pounds to repair damage caused by metal thieves who have targeted historic buildings, schools, churches, and cemeteries.

War Memorials Trust works for the protection and conservation of war memorials in the UK. They provide advice and information to anyone with a war memorial enquiry as well as running grant schemes for the repair and conservation of war memorials. It is a registered charity with relies entirely on voluntary contributions to undertake its work.

For further information visit www.warmemorials.org

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