British Museum Boss Defends Crackdown on Theft

Thursday, August 24, 2023
British Museum Boss Defends Crackdown on Theft

The British Museum has launched an independent review of security after items from the collection were found to be missing, stolen or damaged. A member of staff has been dismissed, and the Museum will now be taking legal action against the individual. The matter is also under investigation by the Economic Crime Command of the Metropolitan Police.

An independent review will be led by former trustee Sir Nigel Boardman, and Lucy D’Orsi, Chief Constable of the British Transport Police. They will look into the matter and provide recommendations regarding future security arrangements at the Museum. They will also kickstart – and support – a vigorous programme to recover the missing items.

The majority of the items in question were small pieces kept in a storeroom belonging to one of the Museum’s collections. They include gold jewellery and gems of semi- precious stones and glass dating from the 15th century BC to the 19th century AD. None had recently been on public display, and they were kept primarily for academic and research purposes.


Hartwig Fischer, Director of the British Museum, said:

“This is a highly unusual incident. I know I speak for all colleagues when I say that we take the safeguarding of all the items in our care extremely seriously. The Museum apologises for what has happened, but we have now brought an end to this and we are determined to put things right. We have already tightened our security arrangements and we are working alongside outside experts to complete a definitive account of what is missing, damaged and stolen. This will allow us to throw our efforts into the recovery of objects.”


In the interest of working alongside the Metropolitan Police, we will not be commenting any further on this case at this stage.

Stephanie Cime

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Anna Melnykova, "Palace of Labor (palats praci), architector I. Pretro, 1916", shot with analog Canon camera, 35 mm Fuji film in March 2022.

Anna Melnykova, "Palace of Labor (palats praci), architector I. Pretro, 1916", shot with analog Canon camera, 35 mm Fuji film in March 2022.


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