London faith leaders get advice to guard against attacks by extremists

Ross Lydall

About 200 London faith leaders have been given security advice on how to protect mosques from New Zealand-style extremist attacks.

Met police officers and security experts addressed a City Hall conference last night amid concerns about an “urgent” need for enhanced vigilance, with six weeks until Ramadan.

The conference was organised by Mayor Sadiq Khan to provide reassurance in the wake of last Friday’s attacks in Christchurch that killed 50. Enhanced police patrols around places of worship were launched earlier this week. There has also been a series of attacks on mosques in Birmingham.

Mr Khan said there was a growing threat from the far-Right that was “not simply a passing trend or confined to a few deranged individuals”. Mosque security specialists, Faith Associates, highlighted measures that could mitigate terror and hate attacks.

Chief Inspector Nick Stanley outlined the threat, while Superintendent Waheed Khan and Detective Inspector Kamal Patel talked about hate crime.

Speaking ahead of the conference, the Mayor said: “Understandably, many Muslims in London and across the world are not only mourning the victims but also worried what this means for their own safety.

“I want to reassure our Muslim community at this time. Experts including the Met police will provide advice to London mosque leaders in how to build secure capacity, share best practice and improve safety and security.” Home Secretary Sajid Javid has announced a doubling of the annual places of worship security fund to £1.6 million to reassure “anxious” faith groups, adding: “Our focus will be on helping those vulnerable to hate-fuelled attacks.”

Today Mr Khan urged Mr Javid to release the cash “immediately” to enable mosques to prepare for the Islamic holy month, which starts on May 5. He said it was crucial to have a “simple process that delivers resources swiftly to where they are most needed”.

The £1.6 million will be available from next month. A further £5 million will be available over three years for security training.

It came as City Hall adopted the All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims’ definition of Islamophobia.