Churches ‘at risk, should install CCTV and alarms’

PREVENTION: Victorian Council of Churches Emergencies Ministry chief Stuart Stuart addresses the forum. Picture: LOUISA JONES


Local churches and other places of worship should consider installing surveillance cameras after a spate of arson attacks, a Geelong Interfaith Arson Forum has heard.
About 80 representatives of religious organisations attended the forum which Ansvar Insurance and Catholic Church Insurance organised in response to recent fires at several places of worship in the Geelong region.
Victoria Police Local Area Commander Inspector Graham Banks said religious organisations had to increase their vigilance against crime.
“They hadn’t seen themselves as victims but that has changed,” Insp Banks told the forum on Tuesday 31 May.
“The forum gave them tools they just didn’t know were available and hadn’t considered.”
The forum heard from police experts including the retired commander of the Explosives and Arson Squad, Jeff Maher, Geelong police public safety specialist Leading Senior Constable Andrew King and the CFA’s Mick McGuinness.
Insp Banks said a number of precautionary measures were available for places of worship to prevent arson attacks and minimise risks.
“The forum recommended looking at CCTV cameras and back-to-base monitoring of fire alarms,” he said.
“Building owners should ensure fuel for potential fires isn’t readily available and that internal doors are lockable so the seat of any fire is restricted to that area.
“They were encouraged to speak to their neighbours and get a Neighbourhood Watch going so they can be alerted to suspicious behaviour.”
Insp Banks said the lower cost of technology made such solutions like CCTV and fire-monitoring affordable for churches.