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28 July 2016

Churches told to be alert but not alarmed after priest’s murder

Churches told to be alert but not alarmed after priest’s murder

Church leaders have been told to remain vigilant following the murder in France of Fr Jacques Hamel this week.

The Metropolitan Police have advised those in charge of churches and church projects to "remain alert, but not alarmed".

The force made clear that there is no intelligence to suggest a similar attack in the UK, but said that this was a good opportunity for all to review their security plans.

In a statement, the police said: "The police have been working with church leaders here in the UK to establish a communication network through which reassurance and guidance to the Christian community can be passed.

"This is a terrible tragedy, but we must use it to test our ability to communicate to this wider network and I want to offer the following advice."
The statement announced that the Home Office is running an eight-week scheme for funding to help places of worship put security measures in place.

The statement went on: "I know these are troubling times and it makes sense for all church leaders to review their security plans and to encourage their flock to be vigilant."

Advice and guidance on personal security and security for places of worship, as with many other locations, can be found on the National Counter Terrorism website here.

Bids for grants to update the security measures at churches in England and Wales can be made until 5pm on 20 September. A second round of bids will open in spring 2017.

Bids may be made for the capital cost of security equipment, but not for the cost of recruiting security personnel.

Places of worship need to contribute 20 per cent of the total costs, and may include things like CCTV, perimeter fencing, access control gates, bollards, door locks and window locks.

Churches must provide supporting documents to show the need for increased security, such as police reports, records of incidents, photographic evidence or insurance claims.

More information can be found on the government website here.

In their statement, the police encouraged churches to "forge close links with your local police commanders who will be able to advise you further on sensible safety precautions".

Any suspicious behaviour should be reported immediately through 999 or the anti-terrorist hotline 0800 789 321.