Good Morning we have been advised that there has been some theft of lead from churches just over the borders.
Keeping your church
open and secure
If any building should operate an ‘open door’ policy, it’s a church.
Unfortunately, crime figures suggest that an open door to an empty
church is an invitation to less-than-welcome visitors. However, there
are things that you can do to protect your church and its contents
and still keep the church open to the community
At a recent conference looking at the
problem of theft from churches, one crime reduction officer said: “My advice would be to lock up everything.” Ecclesiastical endorses that advice, but adds the caveat,“except the front door”.
Keeping churches open outside of services of worship is a vital element in the link they
have with the community they serve. An open door enables people to find a quiet place to pray, it offers somewhere to sit and think, and it enables visitors to the area to enjoy any historical treasures you may have. A steady flow of legitimate visitors also helps deter those with criminal intent.
If you can, try to have someone on duty in the church at all times by having a rota of church sitters, or organise cleaning, grass cutting and other routine activities so that there is someone in the church or churchyard for as much of the time as possible. If that is not realistic, you may be able to achieve a compromise by organising set hours when volunteers are available,which can be displayed on the door.
Remember though that someone left on their own could be at risk, so you need to
have measures in place for their personal safety. Ideally, church sitters should work in
teams of two, they need to have some form of communication such as a mobile phone,
and consideration should be given to providing personal attack alarms connected
to an alarm system. There also needs to be someone readily available to respond to an
All portable valuables should be marked with an Ecclesiastical-approved forensic
marker such as SmartWater, and associated signage should be displayed
prominently outside the church to deter thieves. Lock away in a safe as many
valuable and portable items as possible - certainly any silverware and also, if possible,
brass and pewter items as these metals also have a value to thieves. The vestry
can be used as a lockable area for smaller items of furniture and furnishings. To
reduce the risk of arson, anything that could be used to start or feed a fire should
be removed or locked away.
If a theft does occur, recovery is very much easier if there are photographs of all
valuables and portable furniture. Keep two sets of photographs, one in the safe and
one in a safe place away from the church.
Making the church building a focal point for the wider community can be a way not only
of attracting visitors, but also of having people on site whose presence will deter
thieves. In communities where local facilities are scarce or non-existent, some
churches are playing their part by hosting activities such as post offices, village shops
and even farmers’ markets. One such is St Giles, Langford in the Diocese of
Chelmsford which has opened a small village shop in its vestry. The vision behind
the project was to make the church more accessible to people, to provide a service
for the village and to enable parishioners to get to know other people in the community.
It has brought villagers together and the church has benefited from an increased
number of visitors. Although complex to instigate, projects such as this do have the
knock-on benefit of the broader community developing a stronger commitment to their
parish church and also helping ensure its security because they feel a greater sense
of involvement and ownership.
There are many ways of ensuring the security of your church whilst offering
hospitality to people for whom this might make all the difference to their lives.
More advice and security guidance notes can be found at
Useful information such as how your
building can be used for the community can
be found at www.churchcare.co.uk