Anti-social behaviour in churchyards and church premises

Churches may have to deal with anti-social behaviour around churches and other buildings for which they are responsible. Reported behaviour includes people urinating and defecating in churchyards and vicarage precincts,  drug dealing and using,  soliciting and other manifestations of the sex trade, drinking, vandalism, littering associated with rough sleeping,  fly-tipping,  theft, starting fires,  and causing a public nuisance. 

The following paper looks at these issues in relation to church buildings and considers available practical steps in relation to these issues and the wider, more human-focused matters of engaging with those who use church premises in this way.


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Anti-Social Behaviour in Churchyards and Church Premises

Flowers are shown next to graves in a church yard a church tower is also shown on the left hand side

For churches where anti-social behaviour is already taking place

It can help to

  • Attend as far as possible, according to resources, to security, lighting, people presence when the church is open, and locks. 
  • Take care of personal safety, especially at night, especially if you are alone. People under the influence of alcohol or drugs can behave unpredictably. If violence breaks out, call the emergency services. Do not take risks with people whose activities have put them out of control; if they are at risk of harm or injury get immediate help. 
  • Engage the diocesan safeguarding officer as necessary according to safeguarding policy.
  • Be careful about cleaning up any residue and take advice about clearing drug paraphernalia, condoms and human effluent. 
  • Work with the local authority (in its relevant form to the place) particularly if the area already has a programme for some of the behaviours challenging the church.

More details on conflict resolution, made available by NHS can be found below