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Churches recruit parishioners to act as spies

Churches are to launch “parish watch” schemes to clamp down on theft and vandalism that is costing them almost £2m a year.

Priests and ministers are to enlist parishioners in helping to reduce thefts from church property, including copper piping and lead flashing from roofs.

They want local people — including non-churchgoers — to volunteer for “covert surveillance” duties and to report to the police anybody acting suspiciously.

The initiative, modelled on neighbourhood watch schemes, has been supported by leading church figures in Scotland.

Over the past year, Congregational & General, which insures about 4,000 church buildings in Scotland, paid out £1.95m after gangs stole bells, statues, copper lightning conductors and lead flashing from churches.

• Full story at the Sunday Times.

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