A PROJECT has been launched to protect war memorials around Dorset and the New Forest from being targeted by thieves.

As Remembrance season gets under way, the War Memorials Trust and the SmartWater Foundation are asking those responsible for memorials to register for the In Memoriam 2014 Project, which aims to combat the rising problem of metal theft from war memorials, as well as supporting their preservation.

The nationwide project is making SmartWater, a forensic solution containing a unique chemical code that can only be seen under ultraviolet light, available for free to those who maintain war memorials.

Last year, the Daily Echo reported how the trust was asking councils to appoint an officer responsible for war memorials, which regional volunteer, Chris Moreton, said they did.

He added: “The war memorials in our area offer an important insight into our military and social history.

“They remember those from this area who have given their lives for their country.

“A theft from a war memorial is an attack on the memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice. I welcome the In Memoriam 2014 project and its aim to protect war memorials with the application of SmartWater.”

Once applied to a memorial, SmartWater is almost impossible to remove. Police and scrap dealers are both increasingly checking for traces of it.

Sir Keith Povey, SmartWater Foundation chairman, said: “As the centenary of World War I approaches, In Memoriam 2014 encourages communities to reconnect with their local war memorials and remember the sacrifice that so many people made for their country.

“It is an exciting prospect for the SmartWater Foundation to be a partner with the War Memorials Trust in this project.

“The Foundation’s main role will be to offer greater protection for war memorials in the UK by offering SmartWater free of charge. I hope people embrace what this project offers and take an interest in locating and preserving these symbols of our commemoration.”