With the aim to bolster security measures and foster unity, the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has affirmed the continuation of increased security for places of worship in response to recent terrorist attacks by Hamas in Israel.
The tragic events in Israel and Gaza have deeply affected London communities, prompting the mayor to stand firmly against any form of Islamophobia or antisemitism, a press release from the mayor’s office said.
Working in close collaboration with London communities, City Hall’s resilience team, the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC), and the Metropolitan Police have intensified patrols to provide reassurance and deter hateful acts.
A comprehensive security initiative involving regular visits to all London Synagogues has also been implemented.
Additionally, the mayor has introduced the Community Resilience Champions programme, a joint effort with the London Boroughs Faiths Network.
This initiative aims to provide practical support to faith leaders, equipping them with essential knowledge on ensuring the safety of their places of worship for staff, visitors, and communities.
The programme covers vital aspects such as safety protocols, safeguarding practices, and emergency response strategies.
This investment of £10,000, announced during National Hate Crime Awareness Week, 2023 (14th to 21st October) enhances existing support efforts.
MOPAC has been conducting numerous safety and security seminars and webinars for places of worship, offering valuable insights into safeguarding premises and worshippers.
Building on the success of the mayor’s £3 million Shared Endeavour Fund, which supports community-led projects countering extremism, hate, and intolerance, this initiative represents a significant step towards ensuring a safer London for all its residents.
Khan said, “The suffering and loss of innocent life in both Israel and Gaza is truly heart-breaking and my thoughts are with all those impacted. It’s vital that we don’t allow events overseas to spill over onto our streets in London and I want to reassure both the Jewish community and the Muslim community that we will take a zero-tolerance approach to any Islamophobia or antisemitism.
“I’m continuing to work closely with the police and community leaders to ensure our communities feel safe, and are safe, as they go about their daily lives. Our city is united against all forms of hate and we will continue to do all we can to support faith leaders and communities as we build a safer London for all.”
Deputy mayor for fire and resilience, Fiona Twycross, emphasised the evolving threats faced by communities, highlighting the mayor’s commitment to collaborating with faith leaders. She said their aim is to ensure places of worship remain safe havens where people can gather peacefully. The introduction of the Community Resilience Champions programme underscores this dedication, striving to create a safer environment for all Londoners.
Steve Miller, convenor at the London Boroughs Faiths Network, expressed delight in launching the Community Resilience training course. He emphasised its potential to enhance collaboration between faith communities and emergency responders. Miller urged representatives from all faith traditions and places of worship to participate, fostering a city-wide network of community resilience champions and responders.
Dr Deesha Chadha, co-chair of the London Faith and Belief Sector Panel, also encourages individuals representing places of worship to enroll in the free training programme. She highlighted its importance in equipping communities to handle various risks and hazards effectively.
Chadha specifically urged representatives from Dharmic faith traditions to seize this opportunity, as the training, she said, conducted by experts, could significantly benefit their communities.
The Mayor’s Community Resilience Champions programme builds on the mayor’s previous £200,000 investment through the Community Resilience Fund, aimed at aiding boroughs in emergency preparedness.