I know the great pain that many are feeling locally for the terrible suffering of innocent people in Gaza. Alongside this pain, I know many are fearful about the conflict spilling over into hatred at home.
All crimes on the basis of religion or other identity are abhorrent and totally unacceptable. I know the conflict has brought a new wave of fears to Muslim communities in the UK. Hate crimes against Muslims are significant, and more needs to be done.
The newly introduced Protective Security for Mosques Scheme is a significant step towards achieving this aim, offering mosques and Muslim community centres physical security enhancements, such as additional CCTV. This initiative extends to Muslim faith-based educational institutions as well. Soon, the Government will also provide guarding services for mosques and Muslim faith schools, with more details forthcoming once a service provider is found.
Considering the rise in anti-Muslim sentiment, the Government has also allocated an extra £4.9 million for the security of mosques and Muslim faith schools, raising the total investment to £29.4 million for the fiscal years 2023/24 and 2024/25.
To further promote the Protective Security for Mosques Scheme, officials at the Home Office conducted several engagement sessions before and after the extension, with the latest on the 8th of November 2023. My colleagues at the department collaborate with various stakeholders to enhance the scheme’s reach. I understand that the Home Office maintains a close relationship with community leaders to better comprehend and address safety issues affecting UK Muslim communities.
Efforts are also in underway to develop the new Faith Security Training scheme, aimed at enhancing security awareness among different faith groups and preparing them to counter security threats. In its creation, the Government have consulted faith organizations, including Faith Associates, and security experts, and piloting of this scheme is expected in the coming months.
I know this is a difficult time for many British Muslim communities across the country, and for many in Wycombe. The Prime Minister has clearly stated the Government’s solidarity with Muslim communities throughout the UK, firmly opposing all forms of Islamophobia. Wherever hate is expressed, it must be opposed.