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Knife attack: Do we need more security in church?

SURGERY: Adam Brooks was attacked at NJAC in Birmingham

FOLLOWING NEWS that three men were stabbed during a church service last Sunday, people are asking if the church should be so 'open' and if they should provide security training to its frontline volunteers.

Last Monday (September 11), a man entered New Jerusalem Apostolic Church (NJAC) in Aston, Birmingham, during its morning service and launched an unprovoked knife attack. Three members were injured in the incident – Elder Karl George, Adam Brooks and Jorge George.

Brooks, the son of NJAC founders Bishop Melvin and Pastor Yvonne Brooks, underwent surgery as a result of the attack. He subsequently recorded a video from his hospital bed following his operation, which was broadcast live to people that had gathered at the church on September 12. In it he encouraged people to “level up”, and do their best. At the time of writing, the video had been viewed more than 20,000 times on social media. Brooks is now recuperating at home.

By their very nature, churches welcome anyone, whatever their background, so that they can attend worship services or benefit from church-run community projects.

Most church volunteers who interact with the public, namely ushers and greeters, are usually untrained in security issues – but perhaps it’s time that this was addressed.


CRIME SCENE: NJAC in Birmingham saw a knifeman enter the building last week (image credit: Sky News)

Deaconess Madge Obaseki is co-director of growthechurchnow.com and a human resources specialist. She believes that now is a good time for churches to consider their security. She told The Voice:

“Churches should get together their management committee or board of elders and trustees to formulate some form of strategy on how they can protect the public who visit their premises.”

She continued:

“They would need to look at their frontline workers. They would need to look at their security in terms of their doorways, and preparing staff and would need some form of training in place so that staff know how to deal with people who are aggressive and show signs of mental illness.”

She also said that it is imperative for churches to ensure they have employers liability insurance and public liability insurance, in order to protect volunteers, employees and the general public.

Retired police officer Leroy Logan is a man with a lot of security experience. During his time at the Metropolitan Police, he was head of the Black Police Association and played a major role in managing security during the 2012 London Olympics. He currently runs his own security firm and says it is key for places of worship to undertake a risk assessment.

VULNERABLE

“All churches, regardless of denomination, should carry out their own risk assessments, which should be part of the whole safeguarding issue for their fellowship and vulnerable people. If they can’t do it themselves they can always tap into the local crime prevention officer.

“They should be able to give a clear breakdown of the vulnerable areas in their premises and things to consider in the area.”

He also advises churches to train volunteers so that they have a basic understanding of security.

As head of the National Church Leaders Forum, Reverend Ade Omooba does not want churches to become over cautious because of what happened at NJAC.

“We must continue to welcome people within our community with open arms but be mindful of the social pressures that they are under.”

As far as NJAC is concerned, it is business as usual. They are not letting the incident stop them from serving others.

In a statement they said:

“There is a palpable resolve that this incident will not affect the community-focused work, the open arms and open doors policy the church has for the community and the family fellowship that exists in the church.”

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