Shocking footage has emerged of a man attempting to forcibly remove a large cross from the roof of an East London church. Police say they have made an arrest following the incident, which occurred at Chadwell Heath Baptist Church in Dagenham.
"We are aware of a video circulating on social media of a male causing damage to a religious premises on High Road, Chadwell Heath," Barking and Dagenham police said in a tweet. "A male has been arrested and the matter is being investigated. Any witnesses please call 101 quote cad 4071/18OCT. 323EA."
Witnesses say that the man did manage to remove the large cross before throwing it down onto the street below.
In a statement, the church said: "Chadwell Heath Baptist Church has been working with and serving the local community for over 100 years. We listen to, and care deeply for those in our neighbourhood.
"We are distressed following the events of yesterday where our building was vandalised. The person seen was not part of our church, nor had we seen him prior to yesterday.
"We are thankful no one was hurt and do not want this to affect our ministry. We continue to pray for everyone in Chadwell Heath and will do our best to serve the community now and in the future."
A vicar from the church, Rev James Thomas, said on Facebook that it quickly became clear the man was "not at all mentally very well".
He said: "We retrieved the cross and he didn't harm himself or anyone else - he could so easily have fallen off the roof which wouldn't have been good."
"The police responded very quickly and took him into custody where he will be professionally assessed and hopefully receive the help he requires," he added.
"It was frustrating to have the church vandalised but material things can be fixed with ease. Had he lost his life that would have been tragic."
Speaking to Premier, Mo Metcalf-Fisher of the Countryside Alliance said of the incident:
"There's something quite chilling, about this time where churches and other religious buildings are offering a sanctuary to people that are going through a very difficult time right now that someone could target it in such a malicious and vile way.
"I hope that the police are able to track down that person that we that we witness ripping off the cross from the church roof... I think it's fair to say that it from the outset, it looks like a religious hate crime. But this is happening across the UK."