Heritage Action once again cuts to the core of the issue ('Glasgow Uni shines a light'). Using their online encyclopedia of Case Studies, Law, Terminology, Theory and Method in the manner it is, presumably, intended that the public should use it, a highly pertinent question arises:
Glasgow University has produced a stonking good article on why people refer to illicit antiquities rather than illegal ones.That could be a bit of an awkward question as they are funded with European money... how will they engage with that question? Or will they even try?
[...] in reality some actions can be harmful but not illegal [...]. This is often because the criminal justice system has not yet caught up with the movement of contemporary sensibilities around harm [...]. Some social actions may therefore be generally condemned, usually due to the perceived harm they cause, while not (perhaps yet) being illegal—they are ‘lawful but awful’ as some commentators have put it [...]”.
Perhaps it is time Glasgow added “metal detecting” to their growing list of definitions. There would be illegal metal detecting (which is illegal) and illicit metal detecting (metal detecting without reporting to PAS, which is legal but officially described as harmful). But of course, they would also need to define [...] metal detecting that does include reporting to PAS. That definition presents the mother of all ticklish problems for in Britain such activity is labelled as “responsible” but abroad it’s still considered wrong and unacceptable. So come on Glasgow, you can’t possible have definitions that don’t include metal detecting. But how will you define it? Like PAS does or like all your overseas colleagues do?