Everyone will be aware of the awful events in France over the last few weeks including the murder of a Catholic priest this week as he led his congregation.

It is, therefore, a timely moment for church leaders to look at the security in their churches. Churches are charities, and so their charity trustees are under a duty to minimise the risks to their church and congregation. Part of this risk might be an attack.

National Operational Police Lead for Protect and Prepare Deputy Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu has said:

 “There is no specific intelligence relating to attacks against the Christian community in the UK. However, as we have seen, Daesh and other terrorist groups have targeted Christian as well as Jewish and other faith groups in the West and beyond.

 “Following recent events in France, we are reiterating our protective security advice to Christian places of worship and have circulated specific advice today. We are also taking this opportunity to remind them to review their security arrangements as a precaution.”

It is suggested that church leaders should:

  • Familiarise themselves with the ‘Counter Terrorism Protective Security Advice for Places of Worship’ document produced by the National Counter Terrorism Security Office, which can be found here.
  • Review their security arrangements.
  • To be alert and vigilant but not alarmed, and report any suspicious activity via the anti-Terrorist Hotline on 0800 789321. In an emergency always dial 999.

As part of minimising the risk churches should:

  • Ensure adequate training, information and equipment are provided to all employees and volunteers especially to those involved directly in safety and security, for example, the site manager and welcome team.
  • Put proper procedures in place for evacuation of the church in an emergency.
  • Ensure that the church’s insurance is comprehensive and covers terrorist attacks.

As a general principle, all charities, including churches, should regularly carry out risk assessments and put suitable measures in place to manage those identified risks.

It is also worth noting that this week the Home Office also announced the Places of worship: security funding scheme for the provision of protective security measures for places of worship in England and Wales. The scheme is part of a wider cross-government effort to stop all forms of hate crime and to provide security measures to places of worship. Bids for funding can be made for the next 8 weeks until 5pm on 20 September 2016. A second round of bids will open in spring 2017. For further information please click here.

For more information

For more information, particularly in relation to risk assessments, please contact Edwina Turner.