In light of news in recent months, around the world there have been heightened security concerns for religious institutions and houses of worship. Whether it’s a church, mosque, temple or synagogue, a place of worship can be a prime target for theft, vandalism or even worse, an act of terror. This also includes religious schools, events and other organisations where followers congregate and can be easily identified.
For this reason, more of these institutions are investing in security. Through increased security, places of worship are able to protect infrastructure and better manage the open-door policy that make them a place of refuge, rebirth and safety. So here are some talking points for decision makers to consider in their organisation’s security.
Interior security controls
Controlling and limiting access is one of the most important steps that a religious institution can take to improve security. This can be as simple as:
- Making sure all doors and windows are shut and secured when the building is vacant.
- Installing adequate burglar, fire alarm and lock systems.
- Limiting access by only opening doors that are close to the area being used.
- Establishing a “welcoming” committee to observe, meet and greet every person entering the building.
Considering what’s at stake, it is worth using a trained professional to carry out the role of a concierge or front-of-house reception. This is an excellent solution for places of worship that are uncomfortable with restricting access, but wish to monitor those who are entering the premises or who are in attendance. However, for religious institutions with serious security concerns, the need for access control personnel is vital.
Protecting the perimeter of your building
While it is important to focus on security inside your facility, it is particularly crucial to think about outside too. For religious institutions this includes car parks, playground areas, and key drop-off areas. In a 15-year study of the most violent crimes at faith-based organisations, more than 70% of the acts occurred outside the building or in car parks. Some important things you can do to minimise your risk include:
- Securing points of entry when no events are taking place. If your facility has back entrances and/or a car park, these should be locked off.
- Installing a full coverage CCTV system and motion detector lights for vulnerable areas such as doors and windows.
- Trimming shrubs/bushes/trees that are near the building to reduce hiding places.
- Identifying exterior hiding places, equipment vulnerabilities and utilities entries/shutoffs. Check them for signs of activity before any event.
For larger facilities, there may be a lot of vehicles arriving to the venue which requires an officer to direct traffic. Through hiring dedicated security personnel to perform this function, this ensures timely entry and parking for visitors. However, security personnel can also patrol the perimeter of the building to deter, identify and deal with potential threats to those inside.
Unsure of your organisation’s risk to a potential security threat? Contact Quest Effect here for a free site visit and security risk assessment.