Historic Churches 2022

BCD SPECIAL REPORT ON HISTORIC CHURCHES 29TH ANNUAL EDITION 35 As criminal activity develops, so does crime prevention technology. Within the security industry there are numerous products for protecting internal spaces and some for the protection of exteriors, but there was little available for the supervision of roofs, possibly due to the high costs of installing these systems in listed building settings and operating them in the long term. Furthermore, there was no national standard (nor is there still) to guarantee a police response to an alarm where the detection equipment is located exterior to any premises. Ecclesiastical, a specialist church insurer worked with a number of firms to trial different systems which would best indicate and detect roof incursion while minimising nuisance alarms. Over a number of years a small number of companies demonstrated that their products could operate sufficiently well in order for risk to be minimised. Most church insurance companies now accept that where an approved alarm is installed they can provide full and unlimited insurance cover, thus shifting the risk of loss from the parish to a commercial insurer. The roof alarm is one of a range of measures highlighted by Historic England in a new series of leaflets on metal theft from places of worship (see Recommended reading, below). In particular, Theft of Metal from Church Roofs: Prevention and Response recommends starting with a risk assessment to identify the vulnerabilities and the measures which can be taken to make life difficult for the thieves. Measures include: • Reaching out and engaging with the neighbourhood, whether or not they are members of the congregation, so everyone works together to keep an eye on the building • Encouraging walkers, visitors and worshippers to pop into the building and churchyard at random times, so it does not have an air of abandonment • Securing items that are easily removed, such as the lower section of lightning conductors • Keeping gates secure so lorries cannot access the site, removing anything that helps people climb on to a roof and using anti-climb paint on drainpipes and gutters • Making the roof visible by, for example, maintaining trees and installing security lights, particularly at roof level • Using proprietary metal marking systems so lead can be identified if stolen • Installing an alarm system and/or a CCTV system. THWARTING THE CRIMINALS AT ST BARTHOLOMEW’S St Bartholomew’s in Colne, Lancashire, which had an approved roof alarm system installed and monitored by E-Bound AVX Ltd, is a case that highlights how these systems can reduce the risk of metal thefts occurring. Lead thieves struck the church on the morning of 6th May 2019. When the alarm receiving centre (ARC) received alerts indicating that there was movement on the roof of the building, it immediately alerted the previously agreed contact points at the church to warn them of the potential attack. In the meantime, a neighbour who had heard the sounding of the alarm called the police, resulting in the thieves being arrested on site with tools in hand. Although the intruders had lifted some of the lead flashing in areas, they were unsuccessful in actually removing any lead from the church building. Six days later, the church unfortunately suffered a further attack. It is unclear if these were the same intruders as the previous incident, but again, the alarm activated, deterring the intruders who fled. This time no damage was caused to the church. A few days later (15th May), the church suffered a third early morning attack. Like the two previous ones, alerts were received by the ARC and the church contacts were made aware, the alarm activated and the intruders fled. When E-Bound engineers visited the church the next day they discovered that one of the sensors had been physically tampered with, and it was clear that the cause of the alerts this time was the burglar’s unsuccessful attempt to sabotage the system. To conclude, the main purpose of a roof alarm is to deter intruders from stealing the metal sheet roofing, detect intrusion at the earliest opportunity and reduce the risk of a significant loss occurring. While St Bartholomew’s did suffer repeated attacks over a short period of time, the damage suffered was minimal and the intruders did not succeed in removing any lead from the site. Recommended reading Historic England’s guidance on ‘Theft from places of Worship’ (see http://bc-url.com/lead-theft) : Theft of Metal from Church Roofs: Prevention and Response , Historic England, 2021 – This note deals with measures to prevent theft and how to respond if a theft has taken place. Theft of Metal from Church Roofs, Replacement Materials , Historic England, 2021 – This note deals mainly with replacing lead and copper roofs on historic churches but also applies to other buildings with traditional metal roofs. Church Roof Replacement Using Terne- coated Stainless Steel , Historic England, 2022 – This note collates current best advice for construction of new fully supported stainless steel roofing to replace stolen lead on historic churches. ANGUS BROWN (angus@e-bound. co.uk) is the founder and managing director of E-Bound AVX Ltd. He has held a number of security-related roles since leaving the British Army 30 years ago and he has brought the disciplines and skills he learned while working for British intelligence to bear in developing modern security products and services. St Bartholomew’s, Colne; (left) the uplifting of the lead flashing and external lighting cables which had been ripped up, and (right) a close-up of the damage caused to flashing and stonework (Photo: Angus Brown)