Safety and security in church buildings

Concern from members of the public about safety in public places, including churches, has understandably risen following terror attacks. Whilst risks to church communities remain low, the Police have encouraged all places of worship to be vigilant. There are several publicly available resources to help prevent and minimise the impact of attacks or hate crimes.

Information for the general public

Run, Hide, Tell

This simple advice has been widely publicised in the media. More information about what you should do in the event of an incident can be found on the Government website. Resources include a leaflet and an information film.

CitizenAID - the first five minutes count

The brain child of Sir Keith Porter, Professor of Clinical Traumatology at the University of Birmingham and other professionals working in emergency medicine, the charity citizenAID offers resources for the general public to be prepared in the event of an attack. It is particularly focused on how to react following an incident in order to not just protect yourself but to help save lives of others affected.

citizenAID is available online, in an app or on paper and recently issued its first public information film.

Speaking at the launch of Citizen Aid, Professor Porter, said, "Whilst formal training in first aid is desirable, citizenAID provides those skills to the frequently untrained and can expand the skill base of the trained first aider, embracing the different priorities and using techniques not usually part of routine first aid. I hope a critical mass of the general public will become trained in the CitizenAID concept so that in the unlikely event that they are involved in an incident, they are able to deliver life-saving skills when safe to do so."

Read more on their website.

Action Counters Terrorism

With the terror threat becoming increasingly complex and varied, police are asking communities to act to help prevent attacks. The campaign 'Make nothing happen' focuses on the critical role the public can play in defeating terrorism. Police are advising the public to act to report any potential suspicious activity or online content they come across and are concerned about.

The message is - 'don't worry, don't delay, just act':

Read more on the Government website.

Information for Church officers and leaders

National Counter Terrorism Security Office (NaCTSO)

Understanding the threat and updates from government on how the threat level changes can be found on this portal as well as the Government’s guidance on Crowded Places. The guidance includes a section (page 19) on places of worship. The introduction says: 'This guide is intended to give protective security advice to those who are responsible for security in places of worship. It is aimed at those places where there may be a risk of a terrorist attack either because of the nature of the place of worship or the number of people who congregate in it. The guide seeks to reduce the risk of a terrorist attack and limit the impact an attack might cause.

Access the Crowded Places guidance.

Access the NaCTSO portal.


Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure

The Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI) are leaders in security, providing resources, guidance and expert advice to help protect and keep businesses secure from external threats. They provide guidance notes on protecting sites as well as well as understanding the threats. Their latest guidance note was published following the London Bridge and Borough Market attack.

Read more on their website.

CSSC - helping businesses to remain safe

The Cross-sector Safety & Security Communications (CSSC) hub is a partnership between law enforcement agencies, local and national government organisations and private sector businesses.

Operating under charitable status, CSSC aims to help businesses remain safe and secure by providing information that will assist them to develop robust resilience and emergency preparedness plans. This is achieved by delivering accurate, timely and authoritative messaging and information on an ongoing basis and in times of major incidents with far-reaching impact.

Currently operational in London, Scotland and the Eastern Region, the project is set to expand across the UK in the future.

Read more on their website.

Police and Regional Counter Terrorism Units

In addition to the public campaigns, church officers may wish to reach out to their local Police and regional counter terrorism units. Since the 7/7 attacks the UK has put in place a national counter terrorism network with 10 regional units that have dedicated resources. NaCTSO are keen for places of worship to engage with the dedicated Counter Terrorism Security Advisor (CTSA) in their police force area who can provide tailored guidance and advice, for instance when large events are planned. This is likely to be most relevant to sizeable churches and cathedrals. Contact details for CTSAs can be found on the Government website.