Safety and Security

Safety in, and the security of, our church buildings is of prime concern to us all. The downloads below give advice on several aspects.

Further detailed information can also be found on the websites of Ecclesiastical Insurance and Churchcare.

Health and Safety in Churches – Guidance from Exeter DAC

Health and Safety – Guidance from Ecclesiastical Insurance

Church Security – Guidance from Ecclesiastical Insurance

Keeping your church open and secure – Guidance from Ecclesiastical Insurance

Installing CCTV – Guidance from Exeter DAC

Fire precautions for Church Buildings


The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 came into force on 6 April 2012. They revoke and re-enact, with some modifications, the 2006 Regulations and impose a ‘duty to manage’ asbestos in all non-domestic buildings.

The duty to manage applies to anyone who
– owns the building;
– is responsible through a contract or tenancy agreement;
– has control of the building but no formal contract or agreement; or
– in a multi-occupancy building, is the owner and has taken responsibility for maintenance and repairs for the whole building.

The Health and Safety Executive has updated its guidance, Managing Asbestos in Buildings, to reflect the changes made by the 2012 Regulations.

Thefts of Treasures

The Church Buildings Council has set up a national crime helpline for churches to use when a treasure is stolen. When a theft is reported it will trigger an alert to auctions houses, museums and crime prevention agencies and will be an effective way of preventing the sale and permanent loss of treasures. To report the loss of a treasure or artwork from your church, contact the Church Crime Alert Team by e-mail or on 020 7898 1860.

Chelmsford Diocese have commissioned a crime prevention strategy specifically for churches from Essex Police which you may find useful, to access it, click here.

Devon and Cornwall Police also have advice on crime prevention. Their main website can help you find the telephone number of your local police station.

If you see something suspicious please contact your local police or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111  where you can leave information anonymously.


Thefts of Metal

Many churches in the diocese have experienced theft of lead and other metal roof coverings and items (gutters, down pipes and so on) in recent years. Ecclesiastical Insurance has reported £30million worth of claims since 2007; and some churches have been targeted two or three times, with replacement lead being removed on the second or third visit.

Understandably, churchwardens and PCCs have in some cases expressed real anxiety about the replacement costs involved. Ecclesiastical have now capped the cover they provide, with the upper limit varying depending on whether Smartwater and/or a roof alarm have been installed. Inevitably, this raises the question whether lead or other metals should be used, or whether cheaper alternative roof covering may be used. The anxiety is particularly acute in those cases where the building is extremely vulnerable through isolation or lack of effective means to maintain vigilance. It can seem pointless to re-use expensive metal coverings, only to have them disappear again within weeks or months.

Historic England (formerly English Heritage) have produced a helpful guidance note.  The Chancellor will usually want to have Historic England’s views as he considers faculty applications in these circumstances (though he is not ultimately bound by them).

Historic England emphasise that each case needs to be considered on its own merits, but its general position is that it will always seek to encourage the use of authentic and appropriate metal replacement materials, especially on roofs. However, it acknowledges that there will be some cases in which this may not be appropriate. These would include buildings that have already experienced one incident of theft, and in which there is no reasonable way to implement effective security measures.

The Church Buildings Council have published a document detailing the alternative materials which are available when metal roofing has been stolen, but it should be noted that these materials may not all be appropriate for your church roof and that advice should be sought from your church architect and the DAC as to which, if any, alternative material is suitable.

Ultimately, it will always be for the Chancellor to make the final decision on what kind of materials should be used. He will take into account the advice that he receives both from Historic England and from the Diocesan Advisory Committee, Local Authority (and any conservation bodies that need to be consulted, such as the Victorian Society or the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings); but he too will consider each application entirely on its own merits.

Guidance from Ecclesiastical Insurance regarding metal thefts from churches.

Ecclesiastical have also recently launched a new campaign “Hands Off out Church Roofs”, whereby roof alarms can be installed on churches – for more information please click here.