Protecting your church during building work

In this guest post from Neal James at Panthera Security, we take a look at securing your scaffolding, building work and church from unwanted visitors. In the light of several thefts and episodes of vandalism at churches with ongoing building projects, this post is particularly timely, and we hope very useful.

Hampshire, FROXFIELD GREEN, St Peter's on the Green (2013) #001

How to protect your project

By their very nature churches are community buildings and we believe they should remain so. We know that most churches are over a hundred years old, and consequently are often in need of reparation works.

We know that most churches have alarm systems now in place and that is fine for normal use.

However, when work to your church becomes necessary you will invariably need to have a scaffold erected to provide safe work at height access to the building.

By providing that safe access to your contractor, you have also provided it to other, less than welcome visitors!

nsi-goldPanthera Security, Part of the Panthera Group have worked with the National Security Inspectorate on raising awareness to this often overlooked problem, and in developing NCP115 the Code of Practice for the Design, Installation & Maintenance of Scaffolding Alarm Systems. Panthera Group is proud to say that after a rigorous auditing process, we are the UK’s first company to become NSI Gold approved installers.

It is important to understand that it is the installer that is approved, and not the equipment, as some are led to believe.

Non-approved installers can still install scaffold alarm systems, but they are not required to adhere to the Code of Practice, therefore they may install an insufficient amount of detectors, thereby leaving access points unprotected.

Using NSI Gold approved installers will negate that problem. We always ensure that all vulnerabilities are covered and will issue an NSI Certificate of Compliance once the installation is complete.

Greater Manchester, STOCKPORT, St Mary (Ian Hamilton 2007) #003Ecclesiastical Insurance already recommends the use of NSI approved companies for all other aspects of security, and we have recently been in discussion over the introduction of NCP115 and have been assured that it is the standard they are looking to set regarding the installation of Scaffold Alarm Systems.

NCP115 compliant systems are now being requested as standard by many Quantity Surveyors, Property Managers and Local Authorities.

Let’s spread the word… Protect Our Churches

Neal James, Panthera Security



Panthera Group Ltd is a member of our Professional Trades Directory, a listing of over 60 companies and services offering a wide range of trades people who can help you with  any part of your church, chapel or meeting house. 
The use of trade, firm or business names in the Professional Trades Directory is for the information and convenience of the reader. Such use does not constitute an endorsement or approval by the National Churches Trust of any product or service to the exclusion of others that may be suitable.

Keeping your church open and secure

In a guest posting, Mike Hayward of Ecclesiastical Insurance explains how it is possible to ensure the security of your place of worship whilst offering hospitality to people for whom this might make all the difference to their lives.

If any building should operate an ‘open door’ policy, it’s a church. Unfortunately, crime figures suggest that an open door to an empty church is an invitation to less-than-welcome visitors. However, there are things that you can do to protect your church and its contents and still keep the church open to the community.



At a recent conference looking at the problem of theft from churches, one crime reduction officer said: “My advice would be to lock up everything.” Ecclesiastical endorses that advice, but adds the caveat,
“except the front door”.

Keeping churches open outside of services of worship is a vital element in the link they have with the community they serve. An open door enables people to find a quiet place to pray, it offers somewhere to sit and think, and it enables visitors to the area to enjoy any historical treasures you may have.

A steady flow of legitimate visitors also helps deter those with criminal intent. If you can, try to have someone on duty in the church at all times by having a rota of church sitters, or organise cleaning, grass cutting and other routine activities so that there is someone in the church or churchyard for as much of the time as possible. If that is not realistic, you may be able to achieve a compromise by organising set hours when volunteers are available,which can be displayed on the door.

Alarm systems

Remember though that someone left on their own could be at risk, so you need to have measures in place for their personal safety. Ideally, church sitters should work in teams of two, they need to have some form of communication such as a mobile phone, and consideration should be given to providing personal attack alarms connected to an alarm system. There also needs to be someone readily available to respond to an alarm call.

All portable valuables should be marked with an Ecclesiastical-approved forensic marker such as SmartWater, and associated signage should be displayed prominently outside the church to deter thieves. Lock away in a safe as many valuable and portable items as possible – certainly any silverware and also, if possible, brass and pewter items as these metals also have a value to thieves. The vestry can be used as a lockable area for smaller items of furniture and furnishings. To reduce the risk of arson, anything that could be used to start or feed a fire should be removed or locked away.

If a theft does occur, recovery is very much easier if there are photographs of all valuables and portable furniture. Keep two sets of photographs, one in the safe and one in a safe place away from the church.

Community presence

Making the church building a focal point for the wider community can be a way not only of attracting visitors, but also of having people on site whose presence will deter thieves. In communities where local facilities are scarce or non-existent, some churches are playing their part by hosting activities such as post offices, village shops and even farmers’markets.

One such is St Giles, Langford in the Diocese of Chelmsford which has opened a small village shop in its vestry. The vision behind the project was to make the church more accessible to people, to provide a service for the village and to enable parishioners to get to know other people in the community.

It has brought villagers together and the church has benefited from an increased number of visitors. Although complex to instigate, projects such as this do have the knock-on benefit of the broader community developing a stronger commitment to their parish church and also helping ensure its security because they feel a greater sense of involvement and ownership.

There are many ways of ensuring the security of your church whilst offering hospitality to people for whom this might make all the difference to their lives.

For more information, please contact Mike Hayward at

As a guest blogger, Mike Hayward’s views do not necessarily reflect those of the National Churches Trust

%d bloggers like this: