SOMERSET CHURCHES TRUST
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Somerset Churches Trust Chairman Interviewed By BBC Radio

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Dr Axel Palmer was interviewed on 14 January 2018 by BBC Radio Bristol and BBC Radio Somerset about the theft of lead from church roofs and the joint SCT and Allchurches Trust initiative to provide funds toward the installation of roof alarms. Axel said that the theft of lead from church roofs is a heritage crime. The intiative has also received wide coverage in local newspapers across the county.

The importance of this initiative is underlined by the reported theft of £25,000 of lead from St Andrew’s, Cheddar. This is not a ‘victimless’ crime: church insurance will only cover a small portion of the replacement cost. Furthermore, a government report last month (Review of the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013. Cm 9552) confirmed the shift from being opportunistic crime involving the theft of small quantities of lead, to more serious and organised criminality where entire roofs were being stolen.

It is clear that government recognises that far from being minor criminality, the theft of lead roofs is a heritage crime and an attack on local, typically, rural communities. The issue with legislation is enforcement, where statistics on convictions has yet to be published.

What can churches do? Churches, especially with lead roofs, have to recognise that they are potential targets for organised criminals. They need to install roof alarms (hence the SCT / All Churches Trust initiative) and add forensic marking to the lead sheets. By doing so, a major church insurer has said that it will provide full cover for lead roofs. (https://www.ecclesiastical.com/churchmatters/churchguidance/churchsecurity/roof-alarms/index.aspx)
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