Protection of places of worship, not a level playing field

24th Apr 2020
Protection of places of worship, not a level playing field

Any increase in funding to protect places of worship is to be welcomed. Everyone has a right to practise their religion and in safety without fear of persecution. Unfortunately, the huge rise in hate crimes, especially against Muslims, has become intolerable.

Four years ago, the Government established a Places of Worship Protective Security Funding Scheme to provide financial support for physical security for all places of worship, i.e. fencing, lighting and CCTV.

But it was equivalent to a quite measly initial £800,000 annually over three years as part of its hate crime action plan. It excludes synagogues; a separate fund was already set up for the Jewish community, leaving other religious groups to play catch-up ever since.

News of the doubling of the funds to protect non-Jewish places of worship to £3.2 million this month is steadily closing the gap but remains far short of the increase to £14 million announced for synagogues.

The latest 2011 census shows there are 63 per cent Christians in England and Wales, 4.8 per cent are Muslim, 1.5 per cent are Hindu while Buddhist, Jewish and Sikh each account for less than 1.0 per cent. It still isn’t a level playing field.

As Home Office Minister, Kit Malthouse has revealed the funding has so far been inadequate, with over two-thirds of the 431 applications for the limited fund denied.

This includes only 48 successful fund applications from the Muslim community and 60 rejections. A renewal of assistance with security training is to be welcomed, but the increase, unfortunately, still fall far short of what is required to keep all places of worship safe.

[Photo of Home Office, Marsham Street, Westminster, London, UK. Photographer: Steve Cadman/Creative Commons]

 

Funds topped up to protect UK places of worship

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