News: Government Extends Protective Schemes For Places Of Worship

As part of the continued commitment to ensuring the safety and security of people of every culture and religion, the Government has recently announced the continuation of its Protective Security Scheme For Place Of Worship in 2023, and into 2024.

Aimed at reducing the alarmingly high levels of racially-motivated hate crimes, the scheme sets out to provide a more robust and comprehensive security presence at any area where worship and religious activity can take place. At Churchill Support Services, this is something we take incredibly seriously.

As the UK’s official #1 ACS-Approved security contractor, we’re exceptionally proud to be at the cutting edge of this initiative. That’s not just because of our unwavering commitment to security – as a People First employer, we believe in the ethical and fair treatment of everyone, irrespective of race, religion, or any other characteristic.

With this article, we’ll break down everything you need to know about the protective scheme for places of worship, who can apply, what it covers, and why it’s important you consider it for your premises.


What Is The Protective Security Scheme For Places Of Worship?

Introduced back in 2019 by the Home Office, the Protective Scheme for Places of Worship is an initiative by which places of worship can apply to receive funding for physical security measures. This extends to include multiple different methods of securing a property, including CCTV, fencing, gates, and door access controls.

The funding for the project has grown significantly since its inception, with 2021/22 and 2022/23 each seeing a greater amount of money set aside to help alleviate the issues that marginalised faith communities receive.

It’s specifically designed for premises that are subject to a greater risk of hate crime. It comes in the wake of year-on-year increases across all forms of racially-motivated hate crimes, with the latest governmental statistics painting a particularly grim picture for those of varying faiths and creeds.

Over the last year alone, there were 155,841 instances of hate crime, with an estimated 2/3rds of those being racially motivated. While there’s been a definitive improvement in how the police report crimes, these are still startling numbers, and a 26% increase over the statistics we saw post-pandemic.

With these worrying numbers in mind, the Government allocated around £28 million in funding for religious buildings and places of worship, with £24.5 million being specifically set aside for the hardest-hit communities (namely Muslim faith schools and mosques), with the remaining £3.5 million apportioned to non-Muslim places of worship.

While those of the Islamic faith do receive the bulk of funding, it’s only in response to statistics that show that over 42% of all hate crimes were targeted towards Muslims. This, combined with the fact that Islam is the dominant faith across the UK (outside of Christianity and no religion), ensures that mosques do receive the lion’s share of funds.


Who Can Apply For The Scheme?

The Scheme’s application process is open to any place of worship that’s experienced, or is in serious danger of becoming subject to, hate crime. The governmental guidance on this encompasses a few key points:

  • If you’ve personally experienced hate crime at your place of worship
  • If there’s been numerous reports in the area of hate crime directed towards your faith
  • If other places of worship in your community have been targeted by hate crime
  • If attendees at your place of worship have experienced hate crime

There are only two stipulations outside of the premises being a place of worship (or associated faith community centre). The first is that it must be in England or Wales. Scotland has its own fund, which seeks to accomplish the exact same goal for places of worship across the country. Northern Ireland currently doesn’t offer an equivalent.

The second, and arguably one that many don’t realise, is that your place of worship must be registered by as a charity if its earnings exceed £5,000 per year, which most do. There are certain exemptions, but these are limited, and do not cover the full spectrum of faiths.

If you’ve yet to register your place of worship as a charitable organisation, you can do so through the Charity Commission, provided you have a few key points of information on your place of worship including information on you, your faith, any other owners, and where you’re based.

Outside of that, the application is open to places of worship from almost all sectors, including:

  • Churches
  • Mosques
  • Temples
  • Gurdwaras (Place of worship for the Sikh faith)
  • Halls (such as the Kingdom Hall for Jehovah’s Witnesses)
  • Community centres that are attached to, or associated with, a place of worship.

There are a few notable exceptions to this, however. Synagogues (the place of worship in the Jewish faith) are not included in this particular protective scheme for places of worship, and instead have their own stream of funding through the Community Security Trust (CST).

Similarly exempt from this scheme are:

  • Any living accommodations within the place of worship (common in Mormon churches)
  • Education facilities, including faith schools
  • NHS facilities such as chapels and prayer rooms
  • Any additional facilities in the place of worship, such as a café, food bank or meeting area

Outside of these stipulations, there’s very little to prevent your place of worship from accessing the security funding that the government has put aside. You’re able to apply for the grants even if your premises had received funding in previous years, although this will only be considered in the most drastic or dangerous cases.

The current governmental advice for those who are concerned about their security, and that may not qualify for repeat funding, is to invest in private security guarding, especially during times of worship or for larger-scale gatherings and events, such as Ramadan or Mela.


What Does The Protective Scheme Cover?

Now that we’ve outlined what the protective scheme for places of worship was established for, and the faiths and creeds it provides support for, it’s equally important to see what security measures are encompassed by that funding.

While the security industry encompasses a huge range of different protective and preventative measures, this government scheme only offers funding for a select number of schemes. These include:

This full range of offerings is available to all places of worship across all faiths. Given that those of the Muslim faith, and their associated places of worship like mosques and community centres, are disproportionately affected, there’s additional services available for those.

Those who are successful in applying for funding for an Islamic place of worship can also access security guarding services, as a way of deterring any potential acts of hate crime or antisocial behaviour targeted towards those in the Muslim community.


Protective Scheme For Places Of Worship Deadline & What To Do Now

The application for funding across 2023/24 opened on the 21st June 2023, and closed on 5th September 2023. This was the final opportunity to apply for funding going into the next calendar year, and while it’s likely that the government will renew this for another year from 2024 onwards, there’s no word on that as yet.

If you’ve applied, you can expect to hear back by November 2023 at the latest as the government process the applications they’ve received, and get into contact with the places of worship who’ve been selected go forward. You’ll likely hear from Esotec Limited, the government’s delivery partner for the security measures.

If you missed the deadline, or you’ve heard back and were unsuccessful in your application for funding, there are still measures you can take. With privatised security offering innumerable benefits and an exceptional strong deterrent to those planning any racially-motivated or hate crime, it presents the ideal choice for securing your place of worship.

At Churchill Support Services, we’ve got extensive experience in providing security across a huge range of sectors and events, including festivals, large-scale gatherings and celebrations. We’re consummate experts in offering a service that’s both professional, and that more than matches with your expectations.

With our 27 years at the very cutting-edge of security and safety, we’re more than capable of delivering a security package that’s more robust and all-encompassing than anything you’ll be able to receive funding for.

That’s one of the main reasons to opt for private security over the government-funded options – you’re in total control of what you receive, and can make decisions that are not only right for your place of worship, but that better provide for you long into the future. At Churchill, that’s something we fully understand and believe in too.

All of our security solutions are completely tailormade – no two places of worship are the same, and it stands to reason that no two security packages should be either. We’ll work tirelessly alongside you to create a solution that’s not only customised to your premises, but that’s designed with your specific scenario in mind.

If you’d like to take that next step in securing your place of worship from hate crimes, vandalism and theft, contact our expert team today to receive your free, no obligation quote.

Emily Macaulay

Director of Sales

Emily is responsible for business growth and account development via new sales. She leads the Business Development teams through strategic goals and objectives in line with business targets and strategy. Emily is a friendly, approachable and a respected senior manager at Churchill who always strives to deliver service excellence.