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MAKE OUR CHURCHES SAFE

PUBLISHED: 11:17 28 March 2008 | UPDATED: 13:09 05 October 2010

Cannon Michael Ainsworth who has been assaulted by an Asian gung of youths at his church yard at the Highway in East London 18/03/08

Cannon Michael Ainsworth who has been assaulted by an Asian gung of youths at his church yard at the Highway in East London 18/03/08

Carmen Valino

THE East London Advertiser today launches a campaign to improve security and protect the heritage of churchyards in the East End. Our move comes after the brutal assault on Canon Michael Ainsworth who was kicked and punched in the grounds of St George-in-the-East on March 25

THE East London Advertiser today launches a campaign to improve security and protect the heritage of churchyards in the East End.

Our move comes after the brutal assault on Canon Michael Ainsworth who was kicked and punched as he went to tell youths to be quiet in a passageway by his St George-in-the-East parish church in Shadwell in March 5.

That attack highlighted a sorry lack of security at church properties, many of which have faced regular vandalism and become magnets for bored antisocial youths.

Gravestones at St Dunstan's church just a mile away in Stepney are regularly daubed in graffiti and other buildings have had windows smashed.

Too often, religious leaders said last week, vandalism against churches was treated as just that, 'vandalism', but similar graffiti on mosque properties is treated as 'faith hate crime'.

There is a feeling among many that the authorities treat churches with less importance.

Yet we have some of the most magnificent London churches in the East End, three of which were created by Nicholas Hawksmoor in the early 18th century, St George's, St Anne's at Limehouse and Christchurch at Spitalfields. Our churches should not be neglected.

Canon Ainsworth, writing in the Advertiser last week, called on Tower Hamlets council, which is responsible for the upkeep and security of 12 church grounds and burial sites, to "play its part" in reviewing security.

"How about it, Tower Hamlets?" he asked.

Some £1.3 million of Lottery money has already been spent restoring the beautiful gardens at St George's.

But Mr Ainsworth feels that by investing in the derelict nature study centre in St George's Gardens in Canon Street-road, there would also be some good emerging from the horror of the March 5 attack.

St George's Gardens are due to reopen, fittingly, on St George's Day, April 23. That's nine days after church leaders meet to discuss security arrangements.

The Advertiser urges Tower Hamlets councilors to give this issue the attention it deserves.

We are looking at some of the East End church grounds over the next few weeks and campaigning for improvements.

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Is church security and heritage important? Do you know of vulnerable churches in East London? Drop an email to:

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