Safety and security of historic monuments
Improving the safety and security of historic monuments
The Ministry of Culture has long emphasized the priority to be given to the security and safety policy of State-owned historic monuments, in particular cathedrals:
- adaptation of the technical installations and connection to the network of the Ministry of the Interior RAMSES EVOLUTION II;
- computerization and digitization of the collections conserved to ensure comprehensive knowledge and documentation;
- implementation of the internal safety regulations including the operating specifications;
- drafting of the plans for safeguarding cultural property, an essential step in the preparation of ORSEC cultural heritage plans.
This prevention policy also concerns all historical monuments in general. Public or private owners of historic monuments (buildings and movable objects) must include in their maintenance and restoration programmes adequate security and safety measures, which may benefit from advice, expertise and State aid.
The Ministry of Culture, through its diversified training, awareness-raising and prevention activities, is helping to reduce the number of theft and malicious acts.
The decline in the number of thefts affecting movable objects classified or listed as historic monuments has been noticeable in recent years, even though their number remains worrying. The transfer of delinquency to theft of metals, more remunerative and less sanctioned, can also reach protected buildings: roof, copper water descents, decorative metal ornaments… However, it is important to stress the increasing number of cases of recovery and restitution of stolen goods, sometimes very old, sometimes very shortly after the theft, thanks to the very good flow of information between all the stakeholders concerned.
Consult the flight and refund reports on the thematic site Monuments & Sites.
Those involved in prevention
In the field of security, the departments responsible for historic monuments have been security adviser, police commander, made available by the Ministry of the Interior within the Delegation for Inspection, Research and Innovation (DIRI) of the Directorate-General for Heritage and Architecture.
Its mission to prevent potential acts of malevolence and vandalism has three main components:
- An expertise role to better secure historical monumentss
This technical assistance is provided to public owners (State, local authorities) as well as private owners, after solicitation of regional cultural affairs directorates (DRAC) and those responsible for monuments or collections to establish security audits prior to work or development operations such as church or cathedral treasures.
- A training and awareness activity
In addition to the staff of the Ministry of Culture (curators, architects, engineers, supervisory officers, etc.) and of the owners, associations of elected officials and assignees, the training activities provided also affect judges, police officers or students (art history and art market).
- Cooperation with police and gendarmerie services
These links are essential for a coherent and appropriate prevention policy. Knowledge of the typology of thefts (geographical distribution, characteristics of stolen movable objects and operating methods) is indeed an essential data to obtain a more precise vision of the phenomenon. The permanent links maintained with the OCBC, the SCRC, the brigade of repression against the banditry of Paris, section Antiquaires (BRB), Interpol, as well as with the local police or gendarmerie services, are part of this perspective.
In addition, curators of historical monuments and curators of antiquities and art objects contribute to the network of security correspondents within the DRAC (CRMH), in order to raise awareness of prevention among all public and private owners of immovable property or movable objects classified or listed as historic monuments. In addition to regular contacts on the ground, periodic meetings allow for meetings between all correspondents and actors in the police world.
Procedure in case of theft or vandalism
The Ministry of Culture forwarded to the relevant regional cultural affairs and partners the procedure on the conduct to be followed in case of theft or vandalism, accompanied by a report card, to be informed in order to document the stolen or degraded property and the circumstances of its eventual disappearance. These procedures shall be adapted to the nature of the place where the property was kept.
More generally, the Ministry of Culture makes information dissemination and awareness-raising tools available to all concerned.
Consult the thematic site movement of cultural goods.
Security of historic monuments
The services in charge of historical monuments benefit from two fire safety advisers, provided by the Paris fire brigade.
Their action has several components:
- to assess the level of fire safety of national or territorial heritage buildings, at the request of the Office of the Conservation of Historic Monuments Buildings, regional custodians of RDCA historic monuments, architects of the French buildings of the UDAP and chief architects of the historical monuments;
- to improve the safety of State-owned cathedrals by relying on the "safety of cathedrals" plan, by participating, if necessary, in the preparation of the safety committees of these establishments, and by seeking any appropriate preventive measures, planning and response in relation to fire and emergency services;
- provide technical advice on projects for the construction, renovation or restructuring of existing establishments;
- participate in the fire safety training of future conservators and architects of the Ministry of Culture;
- may investigate the causes and circumstances of fire or "near fire" the request of the head of MISSA, in order to draw lessons for the whole ministry;
- participate in national and international working groups, symposia and conferences dealing with heritage security.
Targeting in priority the historical monuments whose responsibility falls to the Directorate-General for Heritage and Architecture of the Ministry of Culture, the action of fire safety advisors for heritage also extends to schools of architecture, archaeological sites and administration premises.
To the extent of their availability, at the request of the Directorate-General for Heritage and Architecture, the Regional Directorates for Cultural Affairs and the Departmental Services for Architecture and Heritage, fire safety advisers for heritage also respond to requests concerning private historical monuments or belonging to local authorities.