Time to assess your church security01 November 2016
Following the recent terrorist attack in Normandy this year, churches have been urged to assess their security arrangements as a precaution.
Churches are seen as vulnerable because they are usually unguarded and open to the public to fulfil their religious purpose and essential mission. The police advise: do not be alarmed, be alert and report any suspicious activity.
We suggest that all churches review security generally and look at ways to reduce risk and help protect employees and members of the public.
Specific guidance is available on our safer places of worship website for a wide range of prevention and security advice.
Key security considerations to protect your church and workers:
Engaging with the community
Neighbouring houses and businesses are in the best position to keep a friendly eye on your buildings to report suspicious behaviour.
Securing the buildings
Encourage visitors to use designated paths and entrances by having secure barriers, such as hedges, fences or walls, around the rest of the perimeter. This will draw attention to people in other areas. Any secure barrier should not restrict the natural surveillance of local residents or passers-by.
If not already in place, consider installing CCTV, intruder alarms and external lighting.
It is important to consider what measures can be taken to reduce the risk of harm. It is good practice to ensure that individuals do not work alone and minimise the amount of cash kept on the premises. If someone becomes violent it is important to adopt a non-threatening approach and contact the police as soon as possible.
Whilst threats to the Christian community are relatively low, you should be alert. It is important for churches to identify specific threats and who and what they need to protect. Following this assessment, implement any security improvements, put plans in place and regularly review these.
Like most insurance policies, a standard church choice policy excludes damage caused by acts of terrorism. However, terrorism cover can be provided for an additional premium, via a specialist insurer. For more details, please contact your insurance intermediary or the church department on 01274 700 700.
The home office is running a scheme offering funding for security improvements for places of worship that need increased protection. Churches must apply and demonstrate that their place of worship, or a neighbouring church, has experienced a hate crime. Churches are eligible to 80% of costs back. The first round of applications closed on 20 September 2016 but further applications will be invited in spring 2017.
For more information on this scheme visit www.gov.uk/guidance/places-of-worship-security-funding-scheme
Additional guidance and information can be found on our safer places of worship website www.spow.co.uk within the ’prevention and security’ section. The site also provides links to the health and safety executive and government websites for further reading and advice.