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Places of Worship: Protective Security

Volume 656: debated on Tuesday 19 March 2019

The UK stands shoulder to shoulder with New Zealand against terrorism and we will not falter in our commitment to uphold the values of tolerance, religious freedom, and democracy.

I have discussed with police and religious leaders further measures we can take to protect our mosques and communities from any threats here in the UK.

The police have increased the number of reassurance patrols around mosques and are increasing engagement with communities of all faiths, including giving advice on how people and places can protect themselves.

This Government recognise that our communities remain anxious. We are committed to working with faith groups and engaging them on existing measures that fund and protect all places of worship. We will be working with groups including the anti-Muslim hatred working group, Tell MAMA and those representing other faiths to review what more can and should be done to protect faith institutions. This engagement will start immediately.

The Government are committed to acting quickly in response to these concerns. We are therefore announcing today an uplift of funding for the next year of the places of worship protective security fund to £1.6 million. This is double the amount awarded last year. The fund will provide financial support to places of worship for the purchase of physical protective security measures such as fencing, lighting and access control. We will make it easier for places of worship to apply, reducing the administrative burden whilst widening the criteria so places no longer need to show they have already experienced hate crime. Our focus will be on helping those who are vulnerable to hate-fuelled attacks.

Physical security measures are only part of the solution. That is why the Government are also announcing a new £5 million fund over three years to provide security training for places of worship. We will be working closely with communities and faith leaders to develop this new scheme and will, as soon as possible, be opening up a competitive process.

We are proud of all our faith communities and we are absolutely committed to ensuring they are able to worship and live their lives in safety, and free from fear.