Fund to protect places of worship from hate crime returns

Churches, mosques, temples, gurdwaras and other places of worship can once more apply for Government funding for protection against hate crime.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid pictured in June 2019.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid pictured in June 2019.

The £1.6 million scheme will fund security measures including CCTV, alarms and improved locks at buildings vulnerable to attacks.

Previous funding has been awarded when places of worship have been subjected to offensive graffiti, the defacing of religious symbols or attacks on worshippers.

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Since the Places of Worship Security Funding scheme launched in 2016, around £1.5 million has been awarded through more than 130 grants, the Home Office said.

Some 63 were granted to churches, 49 to mosques, five to Hindu temples and 17 to gurdwaras.

This year the Home Office said it has doubled the money available in the wake of the Christchurch attacks.

Nearly 300 institutions from around the country have already expressed an interest in applying - particularly in London, the West Midlands and West Yorkshire, according to the

department.

Bidders will need to show they are vulnerable to hate crime - but in changes to the scheme no longer have to prove they have already been a victim.

Akeela Ahmed, chairman of the Anti-Muslim Hatred Working Group (AMHWG) said: "The simplified process will hopefully make it even easier for mosques to improve their security and will go some way in building community confidence.

"It is vital that every community can worship freely without the risk and threat of harm."

Baroness Williams, minister for countering extremism, 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."

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 is open until August 31, with entries assessed by an independent panel comprising representatives from a number of faiths.