UK increases fund for security in places of worship

Places of worship and faith community centres can now apply for an increased pot of funding to improve their physical security against potential hate attacks. The Places of Worship Protective Security Funding Scheme, now in its fourth year, is now worth £1.6 million, after the Home Secretary doubled the amount available from last year in the wake of the Christchurch terrorist attacks.

In a further change to previous years, applicants will no longer be required to show they have already experienced hate crime and will be able to apply if they can show they are vulnerable to hate crime. The more streamlined process will also mean security measures can be arranged through one central provider, significantly reducing the administrative burden for small, volunteer-run institutions.

In an expansion of the scheme, for the first-time, associated faith community centres will be able to apply for the fund. Home Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Places of worship are at the heart of our communities and should provide peace and sanctuary. I’m proud that through the fund we will be able to help even more institutions to protect their congregations from hate-filled individuals intent on harming them.”

The application process will be open until 31 August. Applications will be assessed by an independent panel made up of representatives from each faith. Successful applicants will receive funding for protective security such as the installation of alarms, security lighting and access control.

Minister for Countering Extremism, Baroness Williams said: “No one should be fearful of abuse or attack because of their faith, and we are committed to ensuring that everyone in the UK is able to practise their religion free from fear. I would urge all places of worship who feel they are vulnerable to hate crime to apply for the fund. We will do all we can to ensure that institutions who are at risk will have the necessary security in place to protect their buildings and give their congregations peace of mind.”

Since the launch of the Places of Worship Protective Security Funding Scheme in 2016, around £1.5 million has been awarded through more than 130 grants to places of worship to improve physical security. Almost 300 institutions from across England and Wales have already expressed an interest in applying to the latest round, with the largest number of expressions of interest coming from London, the West Midlands and West Yorkshire.