The British government warned the Church of England that churches need to seriously consider strengthening their security because they are now potential targets for terrorists in the wake of the most recent attacks in the U.K.
The U.K.’s National Counter Terrorism Security Office issued new guidance about keeping safe in crowded areas after the most recent terrorist attack in which Islamic extremists plowed through walking crowds with a vehicle and then began attacking others with knives.
The guidance specifically warned church leaders, “It is possible that your place of worship could be the target of a terrorist incident. This might include having to deal with a bomb threat or suspicious items left in or around the area. In the worst case scenario your staff and congregation could be killed or injured, and your premises destroyed or damaged in a ‘no warning’, multiple and coordinated terrorist attack.”
Dr. John Hall, Dean of Westminster Abbey, said that while the Abbey has acknowledged the need for security, strengthening security too much wouldn’t be right, according to Christian Today.
“We know that the Abbey is not immune from attack,” Hall wrote in a blog post. “We need it to be open and welcoming, but also safe.”
Churches in England may need to take security more seriously, warns Nick Tolson, a security advisor for places of worship. According to Tolson, the vast majority of churches in England are dangerously lacking in security.
“Security has been incredibly neglected by places of worship over the past decade despite plenty of warning signs that they need to start taking it seriously and putting in place practical procedures to try and reduce the risk to people who work and attend churches in the UK,” Tolson wrote for the Church of England Newspaper.
The churches with effective security in England, says Tolson, can be counted on one hand.
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