British vicars warned not to wear their dog collars in public over terrorist attack fears

VICARS are being warned not to wear their dog collars in public as a report says churches are a high risk extremist target.

New counter terrorism advice has called for security at churches to be increased as fears grow that a British religious institution could be targeted.


A document seen by the Mirror Online has told religious leaders to prepare for incidents and be on alert for attackers, likely to be armed with knives.

Counter Terrorism Advice for Churches warns places of worship in the UK are "easy targets" for extremists.

The warnings come after two ISIS terrorists murdered a priest in France last month.

Catholic priest Jacques Hamel, 85, was taken hostage in his Normandy church before his throat was slit by the terrorists.

His death prompted guidance in the UK to be updated.

The document has been prepared for National Churchwatch by Nick Tolson, who has advised the Home Office on counter-terrorism since 2012.

He told the Mirror Online: "Since the French attack we have to look at the possibility of an attack on a church in this country. The risk level has gone up.

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"Churches in the past were considered low risk – now we know an attack is coming… and churches are one of the easy targets."

If someone pulls out a weapon during a service the report tells religious leaders to "get people out of the church".

Advice is given about preparing for a terrorist attack, CCTV and alarms, challenging suspicious people, dealing with disturbances, getting distance from an attacker and taking cover from gunfire or explosives.

A vicar told the Mirror Online that officials have warned them not to wear dog collars in public because the religious symbol could mark them out as potential targets.


Mr Tolson admitted to the Mirror that he had heard concerns about vicars wearing a dog collar in public but said he disagreed with religious leaders changing the way they normally act.

He added: "It's about teaching them to react to the situation in front of them."

Deputy Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Neil Basu QPM, said churches should remain "alert not alarmed" following the murder of Father Jacques Hamel in France.

He said there was no intelligence to suggest such an attack was being planned in Britain but that it made sense for church leaders to review their security plans.

Since 1996 eight members of the clergy have been killed in the UK – all with knives.

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