Church Commissioners written answers: Thefts from churches

spelman170119On 18th July 2019 the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Rt Hon Dame Caroline Spelman MP, answered three written questions from Sir Oliver Heald MP about theft of church materials:

Sir Oliver Heald (North East Hertfordshire): (i) 277093 To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, pursuant to Answer of 8 July 2019 to Question 269594 on Churches, which dioceses keep records of (a) thefts and (b) attempted thefts of metal.

Dame Caroline Spelman: Detailed information on this is not held centrally. Historic England has the most comprehensive list of churches and other listed buildings that have experience thefts or attempted thefts of metal.


Sir Oliver Heald (North East Hertfordshire): (ii) 277094 To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, pursuant to the Answer of 8 July 2019 to Question 269594, whether the Diocese of St Albans holds any records of the type of metal stolen.

Dame Caroline Spelman: This information is not held centrally. The St Albans Diocesan Office keeps a record of the types of metals stolen from churches and the frequency of thefts. For a more detailed breakdown please contact the Pastoral and Advisory Secretary, Holywell Lodge, 41 Holywell Hill, St Albans, Herts. AL1 1HE.


Sir Oliver Heald (North East Hertfordshire): (iii)  277095 To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, whether the Commissioners plan to investigate which roofing material is (a) least likely to be stolen and (b) best value; and if she will make a statement.

Dame Caroline Spelman: The Cathedrals and Church Buildings Division of the Archbishops’ Council provide advice and guidance to churches on a range of issues, including roofing materials.

Incidents of theft from non-metal roofs are rare, though there is a risk to some rarer types of slate or stone, which are most vulnerable when they are removed for repair.
Terne-coated stainless steel is unlikely to be stolen as it is difficult to manipulate and has a low scrap value for the work and risk involved. Metal and other material is least likely to be stolen from a church that has installed an effective alarm.

Lead is the most likely metal to be stolen due to its value and the ease of removing it, followed by copper roofing and rainwater pipes.