MORE than £400,000 has been given to churches and other places of worship by the Home Office to strengthen their security measurers, it was announced last Friday.
Forty-five churches were among the 59 places of worship to receive grants from the Government to help them pay for CCTV cameras, alarm systems, secure fencing, and other measures to keep buildings safe.
A £2.4-million fund was set up by the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, in the summer, shortly after a sudden increase in religious and racist hate crimes after the vote to leave the EU (News, 29 July). The move also came in the week that an 85-year-old Roman Catholic priest was murdered in his church in Normandy, northern France, in an attack claimed by Islamic State (News, 29 July).
The names of the places of worship that were successful in bidding for grants have been withheld by the Home Office for security reasons. Alongside the 45 churches receiving grants are 12 mosques, a Hindu temple, and a Sikh gurdwara.
The grants were made at the same time as nine projects to tackle hate crime were given a total of £300,000. Charities, including Christianity Reaching Inner City Birmingham — a Christian youth project that encourages young people to report hate crime rather than retaliate — have been given between £24,000 and £50,000.
Ms Rudd said: “This funding is the latest step in this Government’s mission to stamp out all types of hate crime, which has absolutely no place in a Britain that works for everyone. The security funding will help protect a cross-section of faiths from attack.”
She held a summit with the Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid, and other ministers, hate-crime charities, police leaders, and social-media companies during Interfaith Week last week, to discuss how to reduce religiously motivated hate crimes.
“If we are truly to build a country that works for everyone,” Mr Javid said, “people of different faiths should be free to worship without fear of prejudice or attack.”
In a statement, a spokeswoman for the Church of England said that they welcomed the announcement. “Practical support to ensure places of worship, including churches, continue to be safe spaces helps our work in uniting communities, breaking down barriers and encouraging friendship.”
She also confirmed that a member of the Cathedral and Church Buildings division had been on the panel which considered applications, but said they were unable to give any more details on the churches which had received grants.