DUP North Antrim MLA and Policing Board representative Mervyn Storey has expressed concern at statistics released by the PSNI confirming there have been 600 attacks on places of worship in Northern Ireland in the last five years.
Responding to the new data, which was secured via Freedom of Information request by Christian Action Research and Education (CARE) NI, Mr Storey said:
‘‘It is staggering and deep concerning that for the fifth consecutive year on record there have been over 100 attacks involving criminal damage at churches or places of worship across Northern Ireland. This amounts to an attack approximately every three days.
“Whilst there has been a very small decline in the number of crimes recorded year on year levels remain high. This presents significant operational and financial burdens for the churches and congregations involved, whether it be in terms of cost of insurance or pressures associated with the installation of new security arrangements.
“Covid-19 has highlighted clearly the high regard in which people of all ages and backgrounds across our Province hold church worship in the exercise of their religious beliefs. It is imperative therefore that government and the police make it a priority to crack down on crime of this nature to ensure our places of worship continue to be places of solace and safety for all those attending.
“I have written to the Chief Constable urging him to review the current PSNI strategy on crime toward places of worship and trust he will adopt a robust and proactive approach to facing down this threat moving forward.’’