Churches safer unlocked - insurers advise

 Churches left all open all day are less likely to be robbed than those that are locked - that was the advice given to the National Churches Tourism Group by insurers. The Secretary of the National Churches Tourism Group, Rosemary Watts said yesterday: "National figures from Ecclesiastical Insurance, which insures most of our parish churches. show that locked churches suffer twice as much crime as unlocked churches". The National Churches Tourism Group represents churches of all sizes and denominations throughout the country. Mrs Watts drew attention to the official guidance from Ecclesiastical Insurance which is that "If at all possible your church should be left open during the day for those who wish to pray or who wish to find a place for quiet contemplation." She said that although it was more difficult to be open during the day in some urban areas it was possible for all churches to follow the experts' advice. In the predominantly rural Anglican diocese of Lincoln, where she is Church Tourism Officer, police figures indicate that churches which are unlocked are six times safer. "I would be very sorry if the Archbishop's statement referring to a specific problem in a relatively tiny proportion of churches in certain areas, should lead the majority of churches to lock quite unnecessarily. The view of the Archdeacons in this diocese is that 'A locked church is a dead church.'" she said. "Common sense would encourage most churches to stay open," continued Mrs Watts. "The very few professional church thieves will know there are no 'easy pickings' in an unlocked church, and that they are very likely to be disturbed. Vandalism has also been shown to reduce dramatically in both urban and rural areas when churches open their doors during the week." Speaking at the National Churches Tourism Group annual conference last November Nick Tolson of Churchwatch also drew attention to official figures showing churches are safer when open. The Open Churches Trust (founded by Andrew Lloyd Webber) also offers advice to churches who wish to welcome visitors and will visit dioceses to assist in enabling churches to open their doors. Source: CoE Comms

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