The MCB welcomes the changes to the scheme since the Islamophobic terrorist attacks in New Zealand in order to improve accessibility, which are well intentioned, however they do not go far enough to address the low uptake the scheme has had from faith communities to date. For example just 22 mosques accessed the funding last year in 2018.
In particular, the extremely limited application window of 8 weeks – unchanged from last year – makes applications difficult for places of worship which are largely volunteer-run, and major structural issues such as the omission of places of worship in Scotland and Northern Ireland are yet to be resolved.
The Home Office’s own figures in 2017-18 showed that 52% of religious-motivated hate crime was targeted at Muslims, and mosques are often a prime target of the perpetrators. Therefore it is vital that this protective security funding is open on a continual basis in similarity to security funding available to other faith groups.
However, despite these multiple constraints and the low likelihood of more than a handful of mosques benefiting from this scheme this year yet again, the MCB will still be encouraging its eligible affiliates who are vulnerable to hate time to apply and follow through the application process.
For background, the MCB issued a briefing paper to the Home Office in June, containing several recommendations for improvements to the scheme based on consultation with Muslim communities across the country. This is available online at: www.mcb.org.uk/mcb-updates/briefing-paper-places-of-worship-security-scheme