The Places of Worship Protective Security Funding Scheme, which is now in its fourth year, is worth £1.6 million after the Home Secretary Sajid Javid doubled the amount available from last year in the wake of the Christchurch terrorist attacks.
In a further change to previous years, applicants will no longer be required to show they’ve already experienced hate crime and will be able to apply if they can show they’re vulnerable to hate crime.
The more streamlined process will also mean security measures can be arranged through one central provider, significantly reducing the administrative burden for small and volunteer-run institutions.
In an expansion of the scheme, and for the first time, associated faith community centres will be able to apply for the fund.
Sajid Javid commented: “Places of worship are at the heart of our communities and should provide peace and sanctuary. I’m proud that, through the Protective Security Fund, we will be able to help even more institutions to protect their congregations from hate-filled individuals intent on harming them.”
The application process will be open for eight weeks until 31 August. Applications will be assessed by an independent panel made up of representatives from each faith.
Successful applicants will receive funding for protective security such as the installation of alarms, security lighting and access control.
Free from fear
Baroness Susan Williams, Minister for Countering Extremism, observed: “No-one should be fearful of abuse or attack because of their faith, and we’re committed to ensuring that everyone in the UK is able to practise their religion free from fear. I would urge all places of worship who feel they’re vulnerable to hate crime to apply for assistance from the Protective Security Fund. We will do all we can to ensure that institutions who are at risk will have the necessary security in place to protect their buildings and afford their congregations peace of mind.”
Akeela Ahmed MBE, chair of the Anti-Muslim Hatred Working Group, stated: “I’m delighted that the improved fund is being launched. The simplified process will hopefully make it even easier for mosques to improve their security and will go some way towards building community confidence. We look forward to continuing to work with the Home Office to ensure the safety of our congregations. It’s vital that every community can worship freely without the risk and threat of harm. On behalf of the Anti-Muslim Hatred Working Group, I welcome this development.”
130 grants bestowed
Since the launch of the Places of Worship Protective Security Funding Scheme back in 2016, around £1.5 million has been awarded through more than 130 grants to places of worship to improve physical security.
Almost 300 institutions from across England and Wales have already expressed an interest in applying for their share of the latest round of funding, with the largest number of expressions of interest to date coming from London, the West Midlands and West Yorkshire.
In addition to the Places of Worship Protective Security Funding Scheme, the Home Office has also previously announced a consultation across all faiths to review what more can and should be done to protect faith institutions, as well as a £5 million fund which will provide security training for institutions.
*Institutions can apply for the scheme by accessing the Places of Worship page on GOV.UK