London, Mar 16 (PTI) The UK government has doubled the security funding available to places of worship in their fight against hate crime, with 3.2 million pounds earmarked for 2020-2021.
The Places of Worship Protective Security Funding scheme, now running for around four years, provides funding for measures such as CCTV, fencing, gates, alarms and lighting, to places of worship and associated faith community centres that are vulnerable to hate crime.
The UK Home Office said this week that 27 mosques, 13 churches, five gurdwaras and four Hindu temples have received 1.6 million pounds in funding for 2019-20, the largest amount of funding in a single year since the scheme was set up in 2016.
“No one should be fearful about practicing their faith. Whether it is a church, a mosque, gurdwara or temple, any place of worship should be a space of reflection and safety,” said Baroness Susan Williams, the Home Office Minister for Countering Extremism.
“The places of worship scheme provides that physical security. However, we can always do more, which is why we want to hear from worshipers about how we can better protect them from these terrible attacks,” she said.
On Sunday, the one-year anniversary of the Christchurch terror attack in New Zealand, the UK also launched a new consultation for faith groups to feedback on what more can be done to protect faith groups from attacks.
The consultation, which will last for eight weeks, will ask faith groups what else should be done to help them feel safe and confident while practicing their religion. It will enable all faith groups to share their experiences of hate crime, and provide insight for the government in keeping pace with the evolving threat.
“The consultation recognises that different religious groups have different needs, and that some members of congregations, such as women or the elderly may feel more vulnerable than other groups. The results of the consultation will then be analysed and considered as part of future steps on how the government can protect religious groups,” the Home Office said.
It added that under its a new simplified system for applicants, a central contractor will install better physical security, such as locks, lighting and CCTV. All applications are assessed and funding provided to those who are most vulnerable to hate crime attacks.
In 2018 to 2019, police in England and Wales recorded 103,379 hate crime offences, an increase of 10 per cent on the previous year. This, according to the government, is largely due to improvements in the police recording and more victims feeling able to come forward and report these crimes. PTI AK NSA