Protecting Places of Worship

This guide is intended to give protective security advice to those who are responsible for security in places of worship. It is aimed at those places where there may be a risk of a terrorist attack either because of the nature of the place of worship or the number of people who congregate in it.
The guide seeks to reduce the risk of a terrorist attack and limit the damage an attack might cause. It highlights the vital part you can play in the UK counter terrorism strategy.
It is accepted that the concept of absolute security is almost impossible to achieve in combating the threat of terrorism, but it is possible, through the use of this guidance, to reduce the risk to as low as reasonably practicable.
Terrorist attacks in the UK are a real and serious danger.
The terrorist incidents in the Haymarket, London on Friday 29th June 2007 and at Glasgow Airport on Saturday 30th June 2007 indicate that terrorists continue to target crowded places; as they are usually locations with limited protective security measures and therefore afford the potential for mass fatalities and casualties.
Furthermore, these incidents identify that terrorists are prepared to use vehicles as a method of delivery and will attack sites outside London.
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 with suspect items left in or around the area.
It is recognised that there is a need to make places of worship as accessible as possible and to ensure there is a welcoming atmosphere within. This guide is not intended to create a ‘fortress mentality’. There is however a balance to be achieved where those responsible for security are informed that there are robust protective security measures available to mitigate against the threat of terrorism, e.g. protection from flying glass and vehicle access controls into crowded areas, goods and service yards.
Terrorism can come in many forms, not just a physical attack on life and limb. It can include interference with vital information or communication systems, causing disruption and economic damage. Some attacks are easier to carry out if the terrorist is assisted by an ‘insider’ or by someone with specialist knowledge or access. Terrorism also includes threats or hoaxes designed to frighten and intimidate.
It is essential that all the work you undertake on protective security is undertaken in partnership with the police, other authorities (as appropriate) and your neighbours, if your place of worship is to be secure.
It is worth remembering that measures you may consider for countering terrorism will also work against other threats, such as theft burglary and arson (which remain the greatest threats to places of worship). Any extra measures that are considered should integrate wherever possible with existing security.

Places of Worship Counter Terrorism Security Advice

The guidance provided can be supplemented by specific advice from Counter Terrorism Security Advisers that can be reached though your local Police force or by following links provided on the CTSA CONTACT page.