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Anti-terror police warn UK Christians following French church attack

Churches have been asked to review security measures, as the Home Office releases millions in funding for places of worship.

Ely Cathedral is one of around 47,000 churches in the UK.
Ely Cathedral is one of around 47,000 churches in the UK.
Image: PA

POLICE HAVE WARNED Britain’s Christians to be on alert due to fears they could be targeted by jihadists from Islamic State.

Churches have been asked to review their security following recent terrorist attacks in France, as the UK’s Home Office announces £2.4 million (€2.8m) in funding to increase security in places of worship.

Counter-terror police have issued specific advice to the estimated 47,000 churches following the killing of a priest saying mass in France - but stressed people should be on alert, but not alarmed.

The killing in Normandy was the first known attack claimed by IS inside a western church, and UK churchgoers should be alert, according to the police warning sent out last night.

Neil Basu, deputy assistant commissioner at the UK’s Metropolitan Police Service, said:

Following recent events in France, we are reiterating our protective security advice to Christian places of worship and have circulated specific advice today.

France Hostage Taking French riot police guard access to the church where Islamic State jihadists left a priest dead in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, Normandy. Source: PA/Francois Mori

Review security arrangements

“We are also taking this opportunity to remind them to review their security arrangements as a precaution,” Basu added.

This is part of our ongoing work with faith organisations, as well as other sectors, to help ensure the safety and security of their staff, visitors and members.

He added there is no specific intelligence relating to attacks against the Christian community, but added:

However, as we have seen, Daesh and other terrorist groups have targeted Christian as well as Jewish and other faith groups in the West and beyond.

“While the threat from terrorism remains unchanged at severe we urge the public to be vigilant.”

Around 5.4 million people in Britain are members of a Christian church.

Here, the advice from the Department of Foreign Affairs remains “to exercise a high degree of caution” in travelling to France. The warning was last updated on 15  July, the day after the Nice attack.

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The department’s advice for travelling to Germany is to exercise normal precautions, despite the recent spate of indiscriminate attacks in Bavaria.

Religious hate crime

Churches, mosques and other places of worship in Britain will be all be able to apply for a share of the Home Office funds to spend on CCTV, doors, bollards, locks, alarms, and floodlights.

Police received 3,254 reports of religious hate crime in 2014-15, up 43% from 2,269 the year before, the hate crime action plan said in a statement.

Anti-terror police warned of ‘heightened concern’ of risk to Britain’s 263,000-strong Jewish community in February of last year following the deaths of 17 people in attacks by Islamist gunmen in Paris.

They also increased patrols at synagogues and schools in areas with large Jewish population.

Read: ‘Kind, shy and dedicated’, Fr Jacques Hamel is the 236th victim of jihadists in France since 2015

Read: German bomb attacker pledged allegiance to Islamic State

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