Pledge: High-value art will be protected

TREASURES in Christchurch Mansion will "not be put at risk under any circumstances”, civic leaders have today vowed despite proposals to axe security staff at the historic property.

TREASURES in Christchurch Mansion will “not be put at risk under any circumstances”, civic leaders have today vowed despite proposals to axe security staff at the historic property.

Judy Terry, Ipswich borough councillor with responsibility for culture and leisure, was responding to concerns raised about the security of the town centre mansion as museum services in the town merge with Colchester from April 1.

One source, who did not wish to be named, told The Evening Star controversial proposals to stop employing night watchmen at the Tudor mansion in Christchurch Park had been met with disappointment and disbelief.

He said: “We've heard there won't be any night watchmen at the mansion from April. It will be left unguarded. It's crazy.

“The paintings are worth £40million and there is £4m of glass and other artefacts. We can't believe it will be left unguarded.”

Mrs Terry said “no decision has been made” about future security arrangements but admitted the issue of redeployment of mansion night watchmen would be on the agenda when the managing board of the merged museum service meets for the first time in April.

Most Read

She said: “Security is under constant review. It is possible night watchmen may be redeployed but that will only happen if additional security measures are installed with the agreement and advice of insurers.”

Mrs Terry said security at the mansion had been “enhanced considerably” in recent months.

She added: “Some people do not want to work in the evenings and we have to review the efficiency of our services and how we use people. Nowadays security devices are far more technologically developed.”

Installation of security measures such as sensor alarms are among the proposals under consideration, Mrs Terry said.

As revealed in the Star last October, many of the finest artworks in the collection, including pictures by Gainsborough, Constable, Munnings, and George Frost, are uninsured because the borough cannot afford the high cost of premiums.

Do you think the museum service should consider redeploying night watchmen? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

DESPITE any new security provision that may be installed at Christchurch Mansion police policy does not mean officers will attend the mansion even if alarms sound.

As outlined in the policy document Police Response to Security Systems laid out by the Association of Chief Police Officers of England Wales and Northern Ireland (ACPO), police follow a set of guidelines which determine whether officers go to the scene of the alarm or not.

The Evening Star asked Suffolk police three questions:

If an alarm is sounding on a building, car, or business premises do police automatically attend if a police officer is passing?

Yes, a police officer will check if there are any signs of suspicious activity and endeavour to contact the key holder to the property.

If an alarm is sounding on a building, car, or business premises do police automatically attend if the alarm is linked to the police station?

Yes, a linked alarm automatically generates a 999 call and we would attend. However, 80per cent of such calls are false alarms and, for example, if a building alarm has been activated falsely a number of times in recent weeks it would be marked upon the system and police would take a view whether or not to attend.

If an alarm is sounding on a building, car, or business premises do police automatically attend if members of the public call police?

We would gather as much information as possible from the person making the call. We then assess whether the situation is deemed to be suspicious, for example people are seen running from the scene or there is evidence of forced entry. We do not always attend such calls. They are graded on their own merits.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter