Call made for increased security to combat crime at churches
Some 87 crimes have been reported at churches in Northumbria in just over a year, according to new data obtained by the Countryside Alliance.
The figures were obtained by the rural campaigning organisation, as part of its ongoing call to focus attention on rural churches and increase funding for security at places of worship.
The latest 2020/21 records from Northumbria Police reveal some 25 thefts of which nine relate to lead being taken off a roof.
According to the figures, Northumbria ranks joint second for the highest number of lead thefts recorded, alongside Kent.
There were also 61 criminal damage cases and one case of violence recorded, which the data marks as ‘a dog attack’.
In May a bronze crucifix, estimated to be worth £20,000, was stolen from the grounds of All Saints Church in Gosforth.
After launching an investigation, Northumbria Police located it at a scrap yard where it had suffered damage. It was returned and a 55- year-old man was arrested on suspicion of handling stolen goods.
Mo Metcalf-Fisher, a spokesman for the Countryside Alliance said: “We are presented with a grim reality that many churches and places of worship are being treated as easy targets by criminals.
“Irrespective of faith, ensuring the public keep an ever watchful eye on churches and reporting suspicious behaviour to police is vital as is easy access protective funding schemes.”
In a statement, a spokesman for the Church of England said: "Crime on church premises is not always crime directed against the church. We encourage churches to engage with the police and others over crime on their premises."