Places of worship in Scotland will soon be able to bid for funding from the Scottish Government to improve their security.
Today CARE for Scotland welcomed the news, having called for a security fund to be set up last year.
The Justice Secretary, Humza Yousaf and the Communities Secretary Aileen Cambell announced the new £500,000 fund last week. It will be open to churches and other places of worship and will launch later this year.
Religious groups will be consulted in the meantime and the information gathered from this exercise will help in the development of the fund.
The idea is that a church could bid for the extra support which in turn could be used to install security cameras or fencing to protect the property from hate crimes.
Mr Yousaf said:
“We recently committed to exploring what we could do to ensure safety and security for our faith communities at their places of worship, including developing a security funding scheme.
“I hope that this scheme will provide reassurance to all faith communities and their places of worship that hate crime and prejudice will not be tolerated.”
Ms Campbell meanwhile added:
“We are committed to ensuring that our communities in Scotland feel free to practice their religion in a place where they feel safe. No one should fear being attacked because of their faith and particularly in their place of worship.
“We are determined that all places of worship should be places of peace and sanctuary and that our faith communities feel safe and secure when they visit them.”
The announcement by the Scottish Government means Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK where there is nothing comparable in place.
Places of worship in England and Wales can already bid for funds to improve security. Last year, CARE NI revealed that there had been more than 440 attacks on places of worship in the last three years alone.