North East churches told to review security after Normandy terrorist attack

British churches have been urged to review security arrangements as a precaution after the terrorist attack in Normandy.

Wednesday, 27th July 2016, 12:31 pm
Updated Wednesday, 27th July 2016, 1:44 pm
Father Jacques Hamel was celebrating mass for three nuns and two parishioners on a quiet summer morning in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray when the attackers burst in and forced the 85-year-old priest to his knees before slicing his throat

The National Police Chiefs' Council said the Christian community should be "alert but not alarmed" and report concerns.

There are an estimated 47,000 Christian churches, chapels and meeting houses in the UK.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said: "There is no specific intelligence relating to attacks against the Christian community in the UK.

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"However, as we have seen, Daesh and other terrorist groups have targeted Christian as well as Jewish and other faith groups in the West and beyond.

"Following recent events in France, we are reiterating our protective security advice to Christian places of worship and have circulated specific advice today.

"We are also taking this opportunity to remind them to review their security arrangements as a precaution."

He said it was part of ongoing work with faith organisations and other sectors to "help ensure the safety and security of their staff, visitors and members".

The threat to the UK from international terrorism currently stands at severe, meaning an attack is "highly likely".

Mr Basu said: "While the threat from terrorism remains unchanged at severe we urge the public to be vigilant.

"The UK police service is working tirelessly with our partners to confront the threat and protect all our communities."

In a separate announcement on Tuesday, the Government announced a new £2.4 million fund for security measures at places of worship as part of efforts to tackle hate crime.

A Church of England spokesman said: "Church buildings are public buildings that are open to all. Where there are known risks, churches take measures to ensure the safety and security of worshippers and visitors.

"We welcome the Home Office announcement today of funding for security measures for places of worship, which will benefit all faith communities.

"All public ministry involves being vulnerable to others, so security measures are good sense in uncertain times."