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CPNI guidance on deterring hostile reconnaissance

Places of worship offer support to the vulnerable and a place for the community. The very spirit of religious venues and events make them open and welcoming. However, this spirit and the beliefs that these venues and events represent make them attractive targets for people seeking to undertake crime, says the UK official CPNI (Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure) in its new guidance for ‘religious establishments’.

Religious groups regularly publish detailed information about their venues and events which, while useful for their congregation and community, can also be useful for another audience – those wishing to undertake a hostile act against their venue, event or people. These acts could range from petty crime, such as theft, to ideologically, religiously, or politically motivated acts, such as terrorism.

The new guidance is for all those who have contact with the public; the more interaction a member of clergy, staff or volunteer has with the public, the more opportunity they have to inadvertently provide information that would be useful to a hostile, says CPNI. Small changes to noticeboards, social media posts, leaflets and posters can make a big difference to the security of an organisation, venue or event, it suggests.

Among the advice: consider using mailing lists, closed social media groups or group management software so that you have control over who receives the most details about events and services. As for maps of a site, consider if you still need to publish a virtual tour. The document includes links for further advice, such as how to use COVID-19 safety messaging as an opportunity to weave in security messaging.

Much of the advice about being security-minded applies to other non-religious places, such as; avoid posting images on social media that reveal the extent of your security features, such as the placement of any CCTV. Visit

Pictured: St Mawnan Church, Mawnan, near Falmouth, Cornwall, summer morning.


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