The Church of England is proud to have a presence in every part of the country, but sadly that means that our churches and clergy are sometimes targeted in unpleasant ways. Working with the police and local authorities, the Church recognises that it has a duty of care to all its staff, and it will always do everything it can to protect and assist them.
It is right that parish churches offer a beacon of hope and light to those going through the dark tunnel of addiction, reaching out the hand of Christian fellowship, but that can result in both clergy and church buildings being targeted by darker forces who see that as a threat to their trade. What further steps does my hon. Friend believe dioceses could take to ensure the personal safety of all involved?
I am extremely sorry to learn that clergy and church buildings are being targeted in this way in my hon. Friend’s constituency. I thank the leadership and all the members of Paignton parish church for the inspirational work that they are doing in supporting those who are sleeping rough, and in tackling drug and alcohol addiction. That is important and necessary work, and I commend my hon. Friend for doing it. I am sure that the diocese of Exeter and Devon and Cornwall police will be able to offer further help as they undertake that challenging work.