Security of church buildings:
Below are some links to guidance documents for keeping your church building secure:
- Keeping your building secure does not necessarily mean keeping it locked during the day. The DAC would like to encourage all churches to keep their buildings open so that members of the public can visit and experience something of the presence of God in our worship spaces. For some churches this is not possible, but many churches could consider keeping their doors open during the day if they follow the advice set out in this guidance document by Ecclesiastical Insurance. Ecclesiastical Insurance has a website page which encourages churches to stay open and offers further advice on this.
- Ecclesiastical Insurance also provides guidance on general matters of church security.
- The Church Buildings Council provides guidance on church security and protecting your church treasures.
- The Church Buildings Council also provides guidance on installing CCTV cameras, which covers matters of privacy and correct use.
Churches being targeted for lead and metal theft continues to be a problem in our diocese. This is leaving PCCs with huge repair bills for replacing lead and other metals, and for roof and masonry damage caused by thieves attempting to climb onto the roof. We are urging all churches with lead flashings, rainwater goods and roofing material to be extra vigilant. Here are some ways you can help prevent your church being targeted:
- Ensure that all lead is painted with Smartwater and that signs warning of the use of Smartwater are clearly displayed;
- If your church has a lot of lead on the roof, fit a roof alarm. Ecclesiastical Insurance has guidance on this here and does not provide full cover for metal theft in high risk churches unless a roof alarm is fitted. Roof alarms can be fitted under List B with permission from your Archdeacon and All Churches Trust offer grants for roof alarms;
- Keep your noticeboard attractive and up to date. Thieves are less likely to target churches which look to be busy and thriving. A tired, outdated noticeboard sends out a signal that there's not a lot of activity at the church, even if that isn't the case;
- Keep in regular contact with your neighbours and foster good relationships with them. They can be your eyes and ears on the ground and let you know if anyone suspicious is seen around the church building. Let your neighbours know if you are having any work done to your church so that they can be aware of contractors in your church and churchyard;
- Contact your local Police Community Support Officer to discuss the risks to your church and arrange for them to visit;
- Consider the installation of CCTV cameras, particularly if you have a history of antisocial behaviour and crime in your churchyard and your church. This will require a faculty in most instances or may be done under List B if your church is unlisted and the Archdeacon is content to deal with the matter.
Further guidance on metal theft can be found at Historic England and The Church Building Council. As always, the DAC is able to advise PCCs on the best way to avoid metal theft so please contact us if you have any concerns.
If you experience metal theft on your church and need urgent permission to make the roof watertight, please contact Beverley Mightly at the Diocesan Registry who can send your request to the Chancellor. If the Registry is not available, please contact your Archdeacon.
If you experience any type of theft of building materials (such as lead or paving stones), report it to the police immediately and ask for it to be recorded as a heritage crime, as the penalty can then be higher if the perpetrator is caught. You should also contact your insurer and Archdeacon as soon as possible. The Archdeacon will let the DAC Secretariat know, as we keep a record of instances of theft to enable these to be fed back to the central Church for evidence in their strategic work to address these issues. You may also want to consider writing to your MP, as previous changes to legislation have helped to combat some instances of metal theft, particularly petty theft - so it is good for MPs to be able to bring these issues to parliamentary colleagues.