Opinion: East Ham MP Stephen Timms - Extra security for places of worship
PUBLISHED: 08:30 21 April 2019
I have co-signed a letter pressing the home secretary, Sajid Javid, to release additional funding for security in places of worship.
In the awful mosque attack in Christchurch, New Zealand, a gunman opened fire and killed fifty people. In the aftermath, our government promised to double annual funding for security at religious institutions.
An additional five million pounds was promised for security training too.
Along with Labour colleagues, including Unmesh Desai, our representative on the Greater London Assembly, I have asked Sajid Javid to release the funding urgently.
As Ramadan approaches, and many attend late-night prayers, it is vital that worshippers feel secure.
The letter states: “The new funding will make a difference, it is therefore imperative that it is released as a matter of urgency…in order that measures can be taken to improve security in good time before Ramadan.”
It also requests a meeting with Sajid Javid to discuss further options.
Local mosque representatives are naturally concerned about security after Christchurch.
A spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain, while appreciative of the extra funding, commented: “British Muslim communities may still question why the funding is not proportionate to the risks they face. We hope the consultation with faith representatives will ensure British Muslims are safe in the UK.”
Large numbers of people come together in our community for public worship every week, in churches, mosques, temples and synagogues.
We sometimes don't appreciate how big a contribution this makes to cohesion in our community.
It is vital that all those coming together can be assured that they will be safe – that nobody is deterred from attending by safety worries.
I welcome police officers paying greater attention to mosques since the New Zealand attack.
More broadly, ministers need to encourage space for wider conversations about faith and inequality in our society.