Active Prevention Measures:
- In every place of worship the most important single measure is for a particular individual to take responsibility for security. Responsibility may be delegated to another member i.e. secretary, administrator or a member of the congregation.
- The person responsible needs to carry out their own "risk assessment" to identify ways in which intruders, thieves or vandals could start fires, what the effect would be and how to prevent or reduce the risk. Help is available from the insurer of the place of worship, police crime prevention officer and fire safety officer.
- If there have been any small fires or malicious damage to the church or in the locality (there may be an arsonist at work) inform the police immediately. A small fire could be the warning of worse to come.
The best defence against arson, as well as against theft, is to have an effective security programme. It does not have to be an expensive process.
- Entry - The fewer entrance doors the better, preferably one only in common use.
- Restricted entry - It is often the case that when the church is unoccupied the door is locked. Where it is required to keep the place of worship open it is recommended that someone is on the premises. This may be achieved by having a roster of members willing to give up an hour or so of their time to act as "caretaker". Arrangements have to be made for passing on the key, and for return of the key at the end of the day to the person in charge. Never hide keys or leave keys on the premises.
- Doors and windows should of good repair and locked when not in use.
- Walls, gates and fences should be of good repair.
Halls, community centres
- These are favourite targets for thieves and vandals. Ensure that doors and windows are securely locked after use, keys returned to the person in charge and that there is a general inspection before the last person leaves.
- Valuables as far as possible should be securely locked away.
- Worship offices when not in use must be kept locked. These are areas where many arson fires are lit.
- If appropriate enlist the help of neighbours in keeping an eye open for suspicious behaviour.
- Sheds/outbuildings may contain tools, (which help intruders to break into places of worship) or flammable liquid to help an arsonist start a fire. Keep outbuildings securely locked.
- Vandals or thieves (to cover their tracks) will use any "fuel" to hand to light their fires.
- Try to ensure there is no combustible material lying around for an arsonist. This is particularly important where churches are used for recreational and educational uses and in church halls.
- Don't let rubbish accumulate - inside or outside the church.
- Wheelie-bins should be kept in their own locked compartment or kept well away from the place of worship.
- Matches, candles, paraffin, petrol and liquefied gas can all be used to start a fire and help it spread. Keep all such materials locked away.
End of each day
The person responsible for security should carry out these checks at the end of each day:
- No combustible material left lying around.
- Flammable liquids are locked away.
- Valuables are safely locked away.
- No unauthorised person/s are left in the church.
- Alarms (if any) switched on.
- Outside illumination (if any) is switched on.
Based on perception of the risk, and the ability and willingness of the worship authorities to provide the necessary money, thought should be given to installing some or all of the following equipment:
- Intruder alarm which will sound an audible warning and which should preferably be linked via a central alarm station to the police. Advise that the equipment should be "approved" by the insurance company.
- Fire extinguishers/hose reels for use by people on the spot are trained in their use.
- Security lighting - Intruders (including arsonists) like to work in the dark. Security lighting of areas adjacent to doors or windows can be a powerful deterrent.
- CCTV Installation of one or more closed-circuit-television cameras (even if not operative) may well act as a deterrent to intruders.