Dulwich park art theft triggers call for reform

Southwark calls for clampdown on scrap-metal trade after bronze sculpture is stolen from park.

Prime minister David Cameron is being urged to clampdown on the scrap-metal industry after thieves stole a bronze sculpture from an historic park.

The London Borough of Southwark wrote to Cameron after Barbara Hepworth's Two Forms (Divided Circles) vanished from Dulwich Park shortly before Christmas. It was insured for £500,000 but police think it was stolen for scrap because of spiralling metal costs.

"We want Cameron to speed up reforms to the scrap-metal industry to combat the growing epidemic of theft across the UK," said the local authority.

Soaring prices for copper, lead and bronze have prompted thieves to target everything from railway tracks to phone lines. Southwark and the Hepworth Estate have offered a £5,000 reward for information on the sculpture.

"We are writing to request urgent action to curb the dramatic increase in metal theft," said the council's letter. "Our borough's artistic and local heritage has been particularly hard hit.

"We believe there should be much tougher regulation of the industry including a ban on cash payments to sellers and a requirement that dealers keep a log of sellers' details. We are all poorer for the loss of public art and hope you will act soon."

The council said it was carrying out a risk assessment of the 165 pieces of public art and sculpture in the borough. New anti-theft measures could include CCTV or temporary storage until artworks can be made safe.

A Downing Street spokesman said: "We have received Southwark's letter and will respond in due course."

Anyone with information on the theft can call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.


"The thieves must have had a major industrial saw to hack off the only major sculpture in the park. Its theft suggests you can't have great works of art in parks. CCTV isn't much good for smash-and-grabs by people in hoodies while alarm sensors would be triggered all the time by wildlife."

Trevor Moore, chairman, Dulwich Park Friends

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Read These Next

Tractors - Maintenance models

Tractors - Maintenance models

The tractors chosen by professionals across the sector reflect the best features, backup and support on offer, says Sally Drury.

Horticulture education update - staying on course

Horticulture education update - staying on course

Raised levels of investment in horticulture education and increased student take-up is welcome news for the industry, says Rachel Anderson.

Tree planting guide - three basic rules

Tree planting guide - three basic rules

Choosing the right plant, correct planting procedure and best aftercare are the three basic rules for sucessful tree planting, Sally Drury explains.

Follow us on:
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google +
Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs
Horticulture Week Custodian Awards 2017 - the winners!

Find out more about the outstanding parks, gardens and arboricultural projects and teams that became our Custodian Award 2017 winners.

Contracts & Tenders

Products & Kit Resources