Sunak announces £72m fund to protect Jewish community sites

Government has previously made £4.9m available to protect mosques and Muslim schools

Members of the Jewish community light candles during a vigil for Israel at Downing Street on October 9, 2023, in London. Getty Images
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British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced on Wednesday that Jewish schools, synagogues and other community centres will receive a £72 million [$91m] security package.

Mr Sunak said the funding will provide security guards, cameras and alarm systems at Jewish community sites in a bid to tackle the “utterly sickening” rise in anti-Semitism of recent months.

The figure includes £54 million of new funding for the Community Security Trust, which will be used to provide security measures until 2028 in addition to £18 million previously allocated to the charity for the period of 2024-2025.

Speaking at the CST’s annual dinner on Wednesday, Mr Sunak said that the rise in racist attacks meant “the whole fabric of our nation is under threat”.

“It is shocking and wrong, the prejudice, the racism we have seen in recent months," he said.

“That Hamas attack of October 7 was the most abhorrent act of terrorism against Israel that any of us have ever known.

“And it’s been followed by record levels of anti-Semitism in this country that are utterly, utterly sickening.

“It is hatred, pure and simple. An assault on the Jewish people.

“We will fight this anti-Semitism with everything we’ve got.

“As Prime Minister, I will lead this government in a long-term effort to strengthen your security, defend our liberal democratic values and change our culture so we tackle the root causes of this hatred.

“We know CST is going to be needed for many years to come.

“So tonight, I am changing the way CST is funded to help you plan for the long-term with the biggest financial commitment that any government has ever made.”

Sharp rise in anti-Semitic incidents

The CST is a British charity that provides security and advice to the Jewish community in the UK.

A recent report from the CST showed the organisation recorded 4,103 anti-Semitic incidents in the UK in 2023, the highest total ever reported to the trust in a calendar year, and an increase of 147 per cent on 2022.

The figures rose sharply after the start of the Israel-Gaza conflict, with1,330 incidents being reported to the CST in October 2023, more than the three previous highest monthly totals combined.

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The government provided another £3 million to the CST to provide additional security in October 2023, raising the funding to £18 million a year.

The additional £3 million has been used to offer support to more than 480 Jewish community locations, including schools and synagogues, enabling nearly 200 schools and more than 250 synagogues to hire more security guards and increase protection.

The government also announced £31 million in funding to protect democratic processes and institutions in response to growing threats.

“I’m not prepared to stand by and watch MPs forced out of public service because of fears for their safety," Mr Sunak said.

“Nor I am prepared to allow this pattern of increasingly violent and intimidatory behaviour, seemingly intended to shout down elected representatives and hijack the democratic process through force itself.

“It is as un-British as it is undemocratic and it cannot stand.

“We will never give in to the threats of violent extremists. We will not be cowed into changing the way our parliamentary democracy operates.

“We will do whatever it takes to defend our democratic processes.”

Another £4.9 million was made available in October for protective security at mosques and Muslim faith schools.

This brought total funding for 2023-24 to £29.4 million, which the government has confirmed will also be maintained in 2024-25.

Updated: February 28, 2024, 11:50 PM