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More than half of UK churches not opening during the day for quiet prayer for fear of criminal damage, survey reveals

by Kelly Valencia

Churches in the UK are choosing to keep their doors closed during the day for quiet prayer because of fear of criminal damage.

A new survey by Ecclesiastical Insurance in partnership with the Bible Society, has revealed more than half of the churches surveyed said criminal damage and anti-social behaviour are driving the decision to keep doors closed during the day.

Over half (55 per cent) of the churches surveyed said they only open for services and events while 30 per cent open during the day but close overnight.

It means less and less churches are able to open for quite prayer, especially in rural areas.

Out of the 527 churches surveyed, 17 per cent of them said they have experienced anti-social behaviour in the past 12 months, with 15 per cent saying criminal damage had affected them.

Theft of metal (33 per cent), graffiti (26 per cent) and theft of laptops or devices (25 per cent) are some of the other crimes churches are facing.

Speaking to Premier, Mo Metcalf-Fisher said the government needs to come up with better ways of protecting churches from these type of offences.

“We’ve been pushing the government to really roll out their Places of Worship Protection, and Security scheme and it appears that this is only open for a short period of time, every single year and there are only a limited number of churches and places of worship that can actually apply.

“We also want to see local councils, particularly rural councils, working with the churches to see if they can offer support, be it financially or through partnerships for the police as well to keep an eye on these churches.”

Churches also said theft from inside the place of worship (81 per cent) and a lack of volunteers (79 per cent) are some of the other reasons for keeping churches closed during the day.

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