Strengthening the security and resilience of at-risk religious sites and communities (SOAR) project held an online EU level Network Dialogue event on 2nd June, 2022 for network members, technical experts, agreed stakeholders, e.g., EU Commission, national government representatives, and identified academic institution representatives on the specific topic of CCTV and Entrances.

The EU-funded project SOAR aims at increasing the awareness of, and capacity to prevent and mitigate physical and human security threats to places of worship through Security by Design (SBD). The concept of ‘Security by Design’ incorporates security features into the design and fabric of the building and its urban context. The SOAR project partners Enhancing Faith Institutions (EFI), the Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers, and the Architects’ Council of Europe (ACE) cooperate in this endeavour with an extensive network of professionals, including representatives from all majority and minority faiths practising within the EU. The project is supported by the United Nations Alliance of Civilisations.

This network dialogue meeting seeks to contribute to the development of bespoke standards in relation to places of worship. The activity included considerations by working groups of whether standards or best practice guidance is required specifically for ensuring security by design for religious sites, whether that is in planning for new construction, renovations, or security upgrades of existing facilities. The activity explored aspects such as:

  1. The architecture, windows, structure, landscaping, perimeter, entrances/exits and all other physical elements.
  2. Surveillance, the control room, access control, screening equipment, alarm, detection systems, information security, and security related technology.
  3. Sensitive design principles for religious sites shall be explored to balance the need to provide a secure environment while creating the atmosphere of self-reflection that manifests from the form, space, scale, materiality, and light, in spiritual spaces.

The Agenda for the event was as follows:
10:00 am Welcome message from the Architects’ Council of Europe (Gloria Oddo)
10:05 am Presentation of the SOAR Project: Achievements so far, pilot countries and trainings, timelines, events, and resources available for you (Shaukat
Warraich, Enhancing Faith Institutions)
10:20 am Gates, Doors, Windows, CCTV and Entrances, a SOAR discussion note (Kaashif Awan, Enhancing Faith Institutions)
10:40 am From security Research and Innovation to standardisation: the i-LEAD project (Mr. Patrick Padding, i-LEAD coordinator)
11:05 am Presentation from CEN and CENELEC: Crime prevention through building, facility and area design (Ms Christina Thorngren, CEN Representative and Ms Alena Simkova, Chair of CEN/TC 325)
11:30 am Interactive session with the audience using, Q&A
11:45 pm Conclusions and End