POLICE officers will be on guard to tackle unlawful metal detecting on Hadrian’s Wall.

Northumbria Police has teamed up with Historic England, the organisation responsible for protecting historical sites across the country, to warn off people damaging the Roman Wall in pursuit of hidden treasure.

Warning signs have been placed at Corbridge Roman Town, the worst-hit area near Hadrian’s Wall, to try to deter people who illegally metal detect.

Mike Collins, Historic England’s inspector of ancient monuments for Hadrian’s Wall, said: “Most people who go metal detecting comply with the law and the Codes of Practice for Responsible Metal Detecting, but there’s a small but significant element – known as nighthawks – who are damaging and stealing parts of this internationally important historical site.

“Essentially, they are robbing us all of parts of our national heritage as the artefacts they take or destroy could have added to our knowledge of Roman Britain.

“Illegal metal detecting at Hadrian’s Wall is particularly a problem at this time of year as adjacent farmland is being cropped and ploughed, making it easier for criminals to access and steal historic artefacts.”

PC Lee Davison, of Northumbria Police, said: “It may be the case that many people aren’t even aware they are committing a criminal offence but we hope we can work closely with Historic England to educate the public.”