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Just 0.5% of churches apply for government security funding

Fri 14 Oct 2016
By Antony Bushfield

Just 0.5 per cent of churches in England in Wales have taken up the offer of free government money to improve security in their buildings.

Despite the terror attack at a church in France, which left a priest dead and others seriously injured, only 223 congregations applied to the Home Office.

The government launched its security funding scheme for places of worship in July, days after the Islamic State killing of Fr Jacques Hamel in Normandy.

AP Photo/Francois Mori


It closed on 4th October after an extended application period.

Speaking in the House of Commons Home Office minister Sarah Newton revealed that just 223 applications had been received by the closing date.

Labour MP Mark Hendrick raised the issue in parliament, he said: "The take up doesn't look good. Maybe a combination of a lack of awareness or the churches themselves in some areas don't need it".

Six of the requests for cash came from Wales, while the rest where from across England, with London topping the list.

Money can be used for CCTV, fences, gates, bollards, locks, alarms, lighting and new security doors. Churches were offered cash for the technology and to have it installed.

It was part of a £2 million fund offered to all places of worship to increase their security amid the rising threat of terror attacks in the UK.

In total 36 Church of England parishes applied, 27 Catholic and three were Church in Wales.

AP Photo/Francois Mori


Security expert from the University of Buckingham Professor Anthony Glees told Premier: "I'm very startled and worried by the low take-up figure.

"It [an attack] could happen and good security is about prevention more than anything else, so it should be taken up and it should be taken up as a matter of urgency."

But critics argue the government's fund was too narrow and the application process was confusing.

Nick Tolson is from National Churchwatch and has advised politicians on security for places of worship.

Speaking on Premier's News Hour he said: "There have been a lot of churches that were turned down for this money because they haven't had specific hate crime against them but they may have had a lot of security issues.

"We need a bit more funding from the government to help those churches who need security improvements."



A Church of England spokesman said: "Church buildings are public buildings that are open to all. Where there are known risks, churches take measures to ensure the safety and security of worshippers and visitors.

"All public ministry involves being vulnerable to others, so security measures are good sense in uncertain times.

"We welcome the Home Office funding for security measures for places of worship, which will benefit all faith communities.

"Churches will have seriously considered their need to draw on this funding."

Professor Anthony Glees speaking to Premier's Aaron James:

Nick Tolson speaking to Premier's Antony Bushfield:

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