Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Council negligence invites Hepworth sculpture theft

A short stroll this afternoon around Dulwich Park, from where Barbara Hepworth's sculpture was recently stolen, revealed another likely reason why the scrap metal thieves found it so easy to gain entrance and remove the work without detection or interruption.

The park's Tudorbethan gatehouse (left) — which at one time would have been occupied by a park-keeper or groundsman — is now unoccupied and boarded up, removing a critical level of security and making it much easier to break through the adjacent park gates without being noticed. Once inside, it was not difficult for the thieves to remove the work from its base since the sculpture is located fifty yards from the gates, just off the main public path and thus screened from view. This surely constitutes a level of negligence on the part of the local council who administer the park.

The two videos below, which I filmed earlier today, give a better idea of the original location of the work beside the lake. In the first video a woman and her two young daughters lament the passing of a work that the girls had climbed upon since they were very small.

Below the videos is a link to the e-petition lobbying for a cashless scrap metal trade. Please take a minute to sign it.

The sculpture's original location:

And another view of its surrounding parkland:

Cashless Scrap Metal Trade - Amendment to Scrap Metal Merchants Act 1964

Responsible department: Home Office

Due to a significant rise in value, metal has become a much sought after commodity. This increased demand has resulted in a sharp rise in metal theft nationally. Metal fencing, gates, manhole covers and other metallic items are stolen on a regular basis. Property is raided for lead, copper and cabling. War memorials and statues have been taken. Overhead power lines are stolen at serious risk to personal safety with huge costs for replacement and major inconvenience to the public. Historically the scrap metal trade has been a cash in hand industry. This creates difficulties as there is no audit trail, making identification of individuals who may be trading stolen metal or who may be committing tax or benefits fraud, a difficult proposition. An amendment to the Scrap Metal Merchants Act 1964 to prohibit cash transactions would make payment by cheque or directly into a bank account mandatory and would be a significant component in reducing metal theft.

Sign the petition here

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