A new organisation designed to improve museum security has held its first conference.
The meeting of the National Museums
Security Group (NMSG), which is described as a free-to-join
cooperative and is overseen by the V&A, took place in London
The Museums Association (www.museumsassociation.org) reported that
representatives from museums, galleries, libraries, archives and
heritage sites across the UK discussed security issues ranging from
intelligence around the theft of Chinese objects and archive crime
to planning ahead and ways of increasing security without affecting
This move comes after a spate of
thefts last year, including a raid at the Fitzwilliam Museum in
Cambridge, where Chinese artefacts were taken, a Durham University
Oriental Museum break-in, the theft of the medieval Wenlok Jug in
Luton, a George Eliot writing desk taken in Nuneaton and 100 items
such as coins, medals and watches seized from a Derby Museum and
Art Gallery storage facility.
Other thefts have targeted rhino horn,
although most of those incidents took place in 2011.
At the conference, NMSG promoted its
recently developed online intranet, www.nmsg.uk.com,
which can be accessed by authorised security representatives at
The site allows intelligence to be
spread rapidly to the NMSG's 800-strong membership, so users can
upload CCTV footage, photographs and statistical data, send email
alerts and report crimes to the police.
Vernon Rapley, the V&A's head of
security services, said: "There are real benefits but the national
scheme is very much in its infancy. We would like to raise
awareness, especially to smaller museums, that this is a national
tool that represents the whole country."
The Association of Chief Police
Officers is expanding its heritage crime remit, which had been
limited to archaeological and heritage sites, to include museums,
galleries and archives. Mr Rapley said this was "a really welcome
piece of news".
The NMSG plans to hold a conference
annually and has secured funding from the V&A for the next