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Security fund for places of worship in UK doubled after New Zealand attack

Tue 19 Mar 2019
By Press Association

Home Secretary Sajid Javid has doubled Government funding for security at mosques and other places of worship in the wake of the New Zealand attack.

The amount available for religious buildings seeking to enhance premises will rise to £1.6 million in 2019-20.

Launched in 2016, the places of worship security fund helps churches, mosques, temples and gurdwaras in England and Wales to install alarms, security lighting, fencing and CCTV cameras to deter attackers.

  

So far, more than a third of grants have been awarded to mosques. Synagogues are covered by a separate scheme.

The Government had previously committed £2.4m over three years - or £800,000 a year.

Announcing the financial boost for the next financial year, Mr Javid said: "The horrific events in New Zealand are a direct attack on the values of tolerance and freedom of worship that unite us all.

"Nobody should ever fear persecution of their faith and it's vital we stand together to reject those who seek to spread hatred and divide us.

"I know many Muslim communities are feeling vulnerable and anxious. But they should seek comfort from knowing we are doing everything to tackle hate and extremism.

"That's why we are doubling next year's places of worship fund - providing physical protection as well as peace of mind."

To increase uptake, the Home Office said the bidding process for the fund will be simplified so organisations no longer have to prove they have previously experienced a hate crime incident directly.

In addition, a new £5 million fund will be set up to provide protective security training for places of worship.

Following the New Zealand atrocity, the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) urged the Government to step up funding for security at mosques.

Pointing to a £14 million grant to help protect Jewish sites, the MCB called on ministers to demonstrate equivalent support to Muslim communities.

In the wake of the New Zealand attack, UK police stepped up patrols around mosques to provide reassurance and security advice.

The potential risk that mosques and Muslim worshippers could be targeted in Britain was underlined by the Finsbury Park attack in 2017.

Experimental figures published by the Home Office last year indicated that in 2017-18, where the perceived religion of the victim was recorded, just over half (52%) of religious hate crime offences recorded by police in England and Wales were targeted against Muslims.

British security chiefs have warned of a rising threat from far-right terrorism.

Police say they have foiled four extreme right-wing plots in the last two years, while referrals to the Prevent anti-terror scheme relating to right-wing extremism jumped by more than a third in 2017-18.

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