POLICE officers will act immediately to stop people targeting Colchester’s heritage for crime, the county’s police chief has warned.

Chief Constable Ben-Julian Harrington said he was concerned to hear about nighthawkers digging at Gosbecks Archaeological Park in the south of the city.

Holes that had been dug at the nationally important site, which includes both a Roman temple and theatre, were found last month.

It is understood they were created by nighthawkers who steal archaeological artefacts from protected sites and areas under the cover of darkness.

Gazette: Concern - Gosbecks Archaeological ParkConcern - Gosbecks Archaeological Park (Image: Newsquest)

Mr Harrington said his officers have been instructed to ensure Colchester’s heritage is protected from criminal activity.

He said: “Tackling heritage crime is really important, we have got a proud history in this county.

“These items should be in Colchester’s museums for people to look at and safe for them to enjoy outside.

“If we have intel around nighthawkers or people ruining our heritage we will act.”

The chief constable said in response to the incident at Gosbecks, officers have been carrying out house to house inquiries to trace the perpetrator.

“We will be piecing together the evidence as and when we get all the vital intel,” he added.