Sunday 2 November 2008

Treasure Annual Reports: just "inconvenient"?

Over the past few days we have seen here (in the discussion of Treasure case 2006/T631, Cold Brayfield) the problems of determining what has happened in the case of Treasure finds made by artefact hunters in England, Wales and Northern Ireland when the only information that is available comes from the newspapers.

Section 12 of the 1996 Treasure Act requires that the elected representatives of the British people should be kept informed about what Treasure finds have been taken from the archaeological record and which of them deposited in public collections by the production of a Report on the Operation of the Act:
“As soon as reasonably practicable after each anniversary of the coming into force of this section, the Secretary of State shall lay before Parliament a report on the operation of this Act in the preceding year”.
Well, the Act came into force 24 September 1997, but apparently the last (seventh) Report came out in January 2007. It covers however the period 1 Jan – 31 Dec 2004. So when would it be "convenient" for the Secretary of State to inform us about what was happening in this area in 2005, 2006, and 2007? Will we now have to wait until some time in the middle of 2010 or even later to find out what happened for example at Cold Brayfield in December two years ago, despite the fact that the inquest was last week and this concerns administrative decisions being made about the treatment of the common heritage? Why cannot this information be made available online as each situation unfolds?


Daniel Pett said...

The 2007 report will be out shortly. I'm currently rebuilding our databases so that the Treasure Act system comes online as well, we have no funding or help to do this and it is extremely complex. (And yes it will be simple to use.)

Paul Barford said...

That is good to hear, but does that mean that the 2005 and 2006 ones came out but were not signalled by your website? The last one listed there is the 2004 one which is the last I have. If the next two are already are available, where can we get copies please?

It will be interesting to see the Treasure cases appearing on the database alongside the others, it will give us all a clearer picture of the whole range of what current policies on artefact hunting and collecting at least in England and Wales are producing.

I wish you the best of luck with your Herculean struggles with the PAS database, I can imagine a little what is involved, and look forward to seeing the results of your labours behind the scenes. Good luck.

Daniel Pett said...

Thanks Paul. The coming report, which is released in the next two weeks (can't find an exact date on our calendar yet) is a combined 2005 and 2006 report. It is a massive work, costing £5.70 to post!! It will be online as soon as it is launched.

Hopefully I will have all cases before and after the end of this report online by April.

Paul Barford said...

So who do I have to speak nicely to to get on your mailing list? :>)

Paul Barford said...

While I have got you online Dan, is there any word on the date the results of the 2008 PAS review will be made public? I wrote to Kate Clark politely enquiring, but my query was merely met with a long silence. I suspect its not just me that is waiting with bated breath to learn the verdict.

Paul Barford said...

I am reliably informed that both the overdue Treasure Report and the 2008 PAS Review will be revealed together on Wednesday 19th November. It is interesting to speculate why that should be - maybe so they only have to make one lot of cucumber sandwiches? Well, let us wait and see how their presentation together complements each other.

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