Great Britain – In light of the July church attack in France, British intelligence sources warned Western churches of the possibility of attack. One recommendation was for churches to have a bouncer at the door to keep an eye on those entering the church, and to act as a blocker to the attacker(s) and attempt to secure the door while waiting for the police.
In addition to this advice, new guidance issued after the murder of a French priest by Islamic State supporters advises churches should fit CCTV and personal attack alarms.
We are not sure how a personal attack alarm with help stop a terrorist from acting, but hey, it’s Britain.
The draft 12-page guidance drawn up by an adviser to the Home Office says churches should ensure their doors can be securely bolted and recommends worshippers are briefed on what to do if they spot someone suspicious.
Nick Tolson, director of National Churchwatch, said: “When the French church attack happened, there was a recognition that the risk has increased. The risk is still very low, however, we need to think about what we need to do.”
He said any attack was likely to target a small parish church, as seen in the French attack.
He said: “It won’t be Westminister Abbey or St Paul’s, it will be a little church in Bolton or Birmingham. It’s the small churches, just like the one in France. You can walk into any church on a Sunday morning and it probably won’t be a gun, it will be a knife.”
The Deputy Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Neil Basu, while encouraging churches to review their security, added that “Church leaders and their congregations here in the UK should remain alert not alarmed.”
In short, the advice for British churches appears to be “lock the door and call the police,” which we all know may be too late when seconds count.
In our book Church Security Basics, we advocate developing a safety or security team in your church filled with people who deal with emergencies everyday. Your police, firefighters, doctors, nurses, military and intelligence professionals are all trained people who bring important skills to the table.
We also advocate having trained, armed personnel in your church. We advocate a proactive approach (people) and not a passive approach (cameras).
Due to the varying sizes of churches in the U.S., a security team can be two people strong to having several dozen members, but the main idea is to have people who are ready for anything and who pay attention to surroundings while everyone else is worshiping, and they need to be trained on proper responses.
People stop violence with presence, the threat of violence or actual violence if necessary. While this makes most Christians uneasy, and is less than ideal, there are many within the church who understand this truth. Cameras, personal attack alarms, and locking doors will do very little to stop a committed attacker intent on harming people.