HERITAGE experts are training Wiltshire police officers in how to tackle criminals stealing priceless historic treasures and damaging the county's world heritage sites.

Speaking ahead of a workshop for officers at the National Trust's Avebury Manor, Mark Harrison, head of heritage crime strategy for Historic England, said: ”People have lived and worked in Wiltshire for thousands of years and during this time our ancestors have left us with an amazing legacy that we can see in the form of historic buildings, occupation sites and features in the landscape.

"Unfortunately a small criminal minority are responsible for causing damage or loss to this sensitive and finite resource. In many cases the damage is extensive and irreversible."

Wiltshire Police would be training specialist heritage crime officers, the force said.

Last October, thieves drove over graves to steal lead from the roof of Bishopstone's Grade I listed church.