God’s houses under attack

| March 16, 2010

Almost three-quarters of churches in Lancashire are shut because of fears over vandalism and attacks, according to a leading expert.
Nick Tolson, a former Government adviser on personal safety for clergy, said that 70% of churches in the county were closed due to "knee-jerk" safety fears.

He was in the county last week to provide training to church staff on how to keep their doors open and protect volunteers and churches.

Among the tips he was handing out were how to create 'fortress vesteries' to keep valuable items in when the staff is unmanned.

Mr Tolson said: "There are 44.5 million Christians in this country and yet we know the vast majority does not go to church which is probably due in a large part because their local church is not open.

"The reality is that there are very few crimes against churches but when they do occur the reaction is often to shut rather than take a few simple steps to stay open.

"The truth is that if people know a church is open, they are more likely to go and people are less likely to commit crime if there are people inside a church."

He said the seminar, called Churches Need Guardian Angels run by North West Multi-Faith Tourism Association, in Burnley on Friday would give free advice on how to keep churches open.

Fr Timothy Lipscomb, the vicar of Preston, said he had only experienced "a dozen" incidents of crime at the city's Minster during nearly four-and-a-half years there – but admitted it remained a concern.

He said: "At my previous church in Armley, Leeds, I was burgled 15 times, had my car smashed up nine times, got two death threats and a stalker, so there is no doubt crime on churches is very real in places. "I think it is all about putting things into perspective against the importance of keeping the church open."



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Category: Church Security

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