Majority of Brits feel unsafe at their place of worship
New research has revealed that six in ten people believe that their place of worship has been a target of crime, and that security measures would provide peace of mind.
Jacksons Fencing has released insights into security at religious venues, highlighting the most pressing safety concerns of the UK’s faith communities, from physical and verbal harassment, to theft, burglary, and vandalism. Out of 2,000 people surveyed, 59 per cent say their place of worship has been the target of an attack or crime. While 54 per cent agree that lots of physical security makes them feel nervous, 76 per cent feel safer with measures in place.
Crime against religious venues is far too frequent, with 74 per cent of respondents saying their place of worship is a target of crime at least yearly. Four in ten say that their place of worship is targeted at least monthly, and more than one in ten say daily.
Despite the frequency of incidences, places of worship play an increasingly vital role in society, with 44 per cent of worshipers saying they are more a place of asylum and safety than they used to be.
With only 13 per cent of people saying they feel secure enough at their place of worship, there is clearly much to be done. Popular security measures taken by religious bodies include: more tightly controlled access (38 per cent), moving donation boxes to more secure areas (37 per cent), removing valuables from display (30 per cent) as well as increasing physical security measures (25 per cent).
Moving forward, people would feel safer with CCTV (42 per cent), alarm systems (31 per cent), gates (27 per cent), better lighting (24 per cent), and security fencing (23 per cent).
Michael Brooke, head of Operational Services for Police Crime Prevention Initiatives (PCPI), advises: “A sensible and practical level of security, which will not adversely affect the efficient running of the place of worship, is essential. The majority of burglaries are committed by opportunist thieves who choose premises that have no obvious signs of security and where they think they will not be seen. Having someone who meets and greets visitors is a great preventative measure. In particular, having someone who knows the congregation enables strangers to be identified and either welcomed or turned away. It’s also useful to remove and lock valuables away during times outside the service.”