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Extra £1m set aside for places of worship attacked or at risk

07 July 2017


Vigilant: visitors to St Paul’s queue for a bag search last month

Vigilant: visitors to St Paul’s queue for a bag search last month

THE Government has made £1 million available for places of wor­ship and other faith buildings that are vulnerable to attack, after the Finsbury Park terrorist incident that targeted Muslims (News, 19 June).

On Sunday, the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, announced the Vul­nerable Faith Institutions Scheme, which will pay for churches, mosques, temples, and other related religious centres to install security measures such as CCTV cameras, alarms, bollards, automatic gates, or strengthened fencing.

The extra £1 million is an ex­­tension of the £2.4 million Places of Worship scheme. Launched last summer, this has al­­ready made one £400,000 tranche of grants to 45 churches, 12 mosques, one Hindu temple, and one Sikh gurdwara (News, 25 November).

“People must feel free to practise their faith without fear of violence or abuse,” Ms Rudd said.

The fund was initially set up in the week that an 85-year-old Roman Catholic priest was murdered in his church in Normandy, in northern France, in an attack for which Islamic State claimed responsibility (News, 29 July 2016). It also followed the spike in hate crime after the EU referendum result.

The new funding is also available to religious institutions that are not strictly places of worship, such as com­munity centres. The worship­pers targeted in the Fins­bury Park attack had just left Mus­lim Welfare House, a combined Isla­mic com­mun­­ity centre and mosque.

To be eligible for funding, a place of worship must provide evi­dence either that it has been the subject of an attack on racial, reli­gious, or ideological grounds, or that it is vulnerable to such an attack. The application period opened last Fri­day and closes on 17 August.

Decline and despair “not inevitable”. Preaching at a service for the new Parliament in St Margaret’s, West­minster, on Wednesday of last week, the Archbishop of Canterbury said that, at a time of national un­­certainty, politicians must turn to God.

“This Parliament will no more be an inevitable tale of decline and despair or conflict than at any time in the past. It is what we, under the sover­eignty of God, in care for one another — and above all in holy and selfless living — choose to make it that will give it its history,” he said.

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