Advice & Guidance
Theft and criminal damage are the most common crimes committed against places of worship. However, as the majority of these crimes are opportunistic they can potentially be avoided by taking some basic precautions.
Thinking about the problem now will ensure that you are prepared for such an event and will avoid much of the upset that can occur when an offence is committed.
It is a good idea to consider preparing a security strategy for your place of worship. Try looking at your building as a criminal might.
What areas are vulnerable? Is there anything you can do to improve the security of the building and its users?
Church insurers, Ecclesiastical offer the following advice:
Think about keeping your place of worship open during the day but make sure that it is locked during the hours of darkness (other than for services) or unless someone is present.
Try to have someone on duty at all times during opening hours. Remember to provide a means of communication such as a mobile phone to ensure the safety of people working alone. Alternatively you might organise cleaning, grass cutting and other routine activities so that someone is present in or around the building for as much of the time as possible.
Ask people living nearby to keep an eye out for anything suspicious happening near to your place of worship.
Try to lock away valuable and portable items if possible. Silver, brass and pewter items should be kept in a good quality safe. If there isn't enough room in the safe, lock them away in a secure area such as the vestry.
Lastly, safeguard vulnerable items such as coffin stools, chairs or chests by storing them in a secure area or by fixing them to the floor or wall.
This may not deter a determined thief, but may be sufficient to prevent more casual theft.
- Visit the National Churchwatch website for guidance on making your place of worship secure as well as details of free training seminars in personal safety for clergy, volunteers and church members.
- Download the guidance note on Church Security produced by Ecclesiastical.
- Visit the Churchcare website to access several pages of security advice from the Church Buildings Council.
© SPAB 2012