UK launches £24m fund to provide mosques with protection against hate crime

Government to finance security guards and CCTV to safeguard worshippers

Mosques will be able to access £24.5 million funding to help pay for measures to prevent Islamophobic attacks. Stephen Lock for The National
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Mosques and Muslim faith schools have been given access to £24.5 million ($30.57m) for security measures to protect their places of worship and schools.

The Places of Worship Protective Security Funding Scheme will provide funding for places of worship and associated faith community centres that are vulnerable to hate crime.

Latest crime figures for 2020/2021 show that 45 per cent of religious hate crimes recorded by the police in England and Wales were against Muslims.

"It is a fundamental right to be able to practise your faith in your community," Security Minister Damian Hinds said.

"This new round of funding will cover the costs of security measures for places of worship to deter and prevent hate-crime attacks on vulnerable communities, making our streets safer.

"I encourage any place of worship which feels vulnerable to hate crime to apply for funding through the Places of Worship fund."

This year, Muslim faith communities will also be able to apply for financial aid to fund security guard services to pay for staff who will have a visible presence at the entrance of their place of worship.

These guarding services will be available later in the year.

“This financial year mosques and associated faith community centres can also apply for some security guarding services, where they feel security guards will improve the safety of their site and those worshipping there,” the Home Office said.

“The provision of a guarding service will only be available at Muslim places of worship. Interested Muslim communities will be able to apply for both guarding services and physical security measures, such as CCTV and fencing."

Venues will be able to apply for the installation of up to three protective security measures.

The application process opened this week and will continue until July.

"You should apply to the Places of Worship funding scheme if you have experienced hate crime at your place of worship, or if you feel that your place of worship is vulnerable to hate crime ―for example if hate crime has happened at other sites in your community, or to people attending your place of worship," it said.

"All site assessments that agree that a particular place of worship would benefit from the installation of physical security measures will then need to be reviewed by an independent advisory panel. The panel is made up of representatives from the Sikh, Hindu, Muslim and Christian communities who have expertise on security issues in relation to their respective faiths."

Director of Tell Mama, Iman Atta, welcomed the initiative.

"The additional support from this government to ensure security support through guarding services is warmly welcomed and much needed," he said.

"Tell Mama has regularly called for additional support to Islamic institutions and mosques and in line with the national anti-Muslim hate crime monitoring and support services that Tell Mama provides on an ongoing basis. Collectively, this support from the government should be welcomed and applauded."

Last month a gang attacked members of a mosque in London.

Police are investigating allegations of a racially aggravated assault after a gang armed with bottles and hockey sticks attacked people outside the Sri Lankan Muslim Centre in East London as they went inside for iftar.

Updated: May 20, 2022, 2:17 PM