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Arson security warning to churches

Churches are being advised to step up security measures after an arson attack in south Yorkshire.

Churches are being advised to step up security measures after an arson attack in south Yorkshire.

A place of worship in Sheffield was torched and badly damaged in the resulting blaze.

Insurance firm Ecclesiastical suggests more than 150 churhes have been set on fire deliberately, according to one report.

The insurer said the damage to the historic buildings and the irreplaceable artefacts inside ran into millions of pounds.

In the latest incident, Pitsmoor Christ Church was targeted on 4 July.

Police are treating the attack as arson.

Ecclesiastical said that while church attacks fell away during the lockdowns, the authorities should take measures over the summer when firebugs are most likely to strike.

The insurer’s figures show London, Lancashire, Yorkshire, Essex and Kent are the most frequently targeted.

Jo Whyman, risk management director at Ecclesiastical Insurance, said: “Our data shows that arson seems to be on the increase again and the impact of these attacks can be truly devastating.

“It’s horrible to see churches damaged as a result of a fire – particularly at the hands of criminals. These buildings are part of the fabric of our society, at the heart of our communities, and have been for centuries. Senseless acts by individuals not only destroy bricks and mortar, but often priceless artefacts that have historical significance to our nation.

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“Churches are legally required to carry out a fire risk assessment and in doing so they’ll be able to understand the risk of fire – including the risk of an arson attack.

“It is really important that steps are taken to prevent fires and by following our guidance you can help to reduce the risk of arson at your property. The good news is, many of the recommended safeguards don’t require capital investment but simple precautionary steps which could make all the difference.”

Churches have always attracted low level crime and vandalism.

In recent years, organised crime gangs have targeted older churches’ roofs to steal lead and copper.