Crimes at Cambridgeshire churches total more than 224 in two years - including violent and sexual assaults

PUBLISHED: 12:43 05 November 2019 | UPDATED: 13:04 05 November 2019

Crimes at Cambridgeshire churches total more than 224 in two years. Lead was stolen from the Church of St Mary in Whaddon earlier this year. Picture: Cambs police

Crimes at Cambridgeshire churches total more than 224 in two years. Lead was stolen from the Church of St Mary in Whaddon earlier this year. Picture: Cambs police

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More than 224 incidents of crime at churches in Cambridgeshire - including 22 violent assaults - have taken place over the past two years.

Crimes at Cambridgeshire churches total more than 224 in two years. Lead was stolen from the Church of St Mary in Whaddon earlier this year. Picture: Cambs policeCrimes at Cambridgeshire churches total more than 224 in two years. Lead was stolen from the Church of St Mary in Whaddon earlier this year. Picture: Cambs police

Figures revealed 22 recorded cases of lead being taken from religious buildings, 96 general thefts, 44 counts of criminal damage as well as 22 violent assaults - including five sexual assaults - and 11 public order offences.

The investigation took place after several complaints were made to the Countryside Alliance.

Campaigners submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOI) to Cambridgeshire Police probing how many incidents had been reported to them.

They asked for numbers of reports about vandalism and physical and violent assaults that had taken place in churches or on church property from 2017 to present.

Crimes at Cambridgeshire churches total more than 224 in two years. All Saints Church in Elton had lead from its roof removed overnight in April. Picture: CAMBRIDGESHIRE POLICECrimes at Cambridgeshire churches total more than 224 in two years. All Saints Church in Elton had lead from its roof removed overnight in April. Picture: CAMBRIDGESHIRE POLICE

It came after members of the rural group raised their concerns about lead theft in the county and what is being done to prevent it.

Mo Metcalf- Fisher, of the Countryside Alliance, said: "These figures paint a bleak picture of criminal attacks on our churches and religious buildings.

"As a society, irrespective of faith or none, we need to be much more vigilant when it comes to watching over churches and places of worship by reporting suspicious activity.

"It serves as a reminder of the importance of funding and pushing for visible policing, particularly in rural areas where churches are more remote."

Crimes at Cambridgeshire churches total more than 224 in two years. All Saints Church in Elton had lead from its roof removed overnight in April. Picture: CAMBRIDGESHIRE POLICECrimes at Cambridgeshire churches total more than 224 in two years. All Saints Church in Elton had lead from its roof removed overnight in April. Picture: CAMBRIDGESHIRE POLICE

Across the country, 19, 493 crimes have been committed at churches and religious buildings, after 40 of 45 UK police forces responded to the FOI request.

It is unknown specifically which churches in the county have been targeted, within this data set.

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The Countryside Alliance has compiled as part of a report to its membership which includes 2,490 cases of violence, 4162 of criminal damage and 7,206 of thefts of which, 940 relate to lead theft.

It works out at a rate of 19 crimes a day, nationwide.

In neighbouring Essex, 442 crimes were committed on church property during the same time period

The Countryside Alliance is a rural campaigning group with more than 100,000 members in the UK.

For more information visit https://www.countryside-alliance.org/

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