York: police call for extra security measures to defend mosque from attack

Police have called for extra security measures to be included within plans for a new £2 million mosque in York because of concerns it could be a magnet for yobs.

The York Mosque and Islamic Centre is aiming to replace its current building in Bull Lane, which has been in use for more than 25 years, with a new structure to allow it to cater for the growing demands of the city’s Muslim community.

The building would include two minarets either side of a central dome, as well as a prayer hall, library, classroom and indoor community hall. City of York Council is expected to make a decision in October.

But North Yorkshire Police, which has been consulted on the scheme, says the mosque would have a “high risk factor” and the applicants should look at shielding its windows through grilles or sheeting, as well as considering raising the height of a fence at the front of the site and installing better lighting in its parking area.

The force said its comments were due to mosques in other parts of the UK having been targeted for racial or religious reasons, and it felt the current application had not “satisfactorily addressed” crime prevention.

A report to the council by the police’s architectural liaison service said: “The existing buildings on-site have never been clearly identified as being utilised for the purposes of a mosque.

“It is believed that this lack of clarity and anonymity regarding the use of the site has possibly helped to keep crime and antisocial behaviour levels low. The proposed new building, however, could draw unwanted attention to itself due to its iconic design, which clearly identifies it as a mosque.

“It is therefore vital that security features are built into the design and layout of this building now, as opposed to having to be fitted retrospectively in the future.”

The Press, 25 July 2011