Law and religion round-up – 31st July

A week in which a French priest was murdered while saying Mass and safeguarding was in the news on both sides of the Border…

Fr Jacques Hamel RIP

On Tuesday morning two men entered the church at Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray, near Rouen, and took five hostages: Fr Jacques Hamel, two nuns and two parishioners. They slit Fr Hamel’s throat as he was saying mass, after which they filmed themselves preaching in Arabic by the altar. According to the latest information on the Web, one of the freed hostages is still in a critical condition.

David is an Anglican in the Catholic tradition: Frank is a Quaker of the Unitarian-Universalist tendency. For both of us, however, there is something peculiarly repulsive in the cold-blooded murder of someone in church, at prayer. Or as Andrew Copson, Chief Executive of the British Humanist Association, tweeted:

“Just when you were worried Europe was backsliding to 1930s, turns out it’s the 1130s. Solidarity with all people of goodwill .”

Security in the church

On Wednesday, the Home Office announced the Places of worship: security funding scheme for the provision of protective security measures for places of worship in England and Wales. The scheme is part of a wider cross-government Hate Crime Action Plan which sets out the government’s plan of actions to deal with hate crime until May 2020. It applies to England and Wales only. Bids for security funding can be made for the next 8 weeks until 5pm on 20 September 2016. A second round of bids will open in spring 2017. In parallel with this initiative, the National Police Chiefs’ Council has issued protective security advice specific to Christian places of worship which stated that while there is no specific intelligence relating at attacks against the Christian community in the UK, police are urging the community to be alert but not alarmed, report concerns to the police and review their security as a precaution. Continue reading

Brexit Basics 6: update 30th July

“Brexit: pursued by a bore (or two)?”

Greenland and Brexit

The practicalities of leaving the EU are at last being addressed and this week attention has focused on the “withdrawal” of Greenland from the European Communities; numerous references have been made in the printed and social media to a statement of the former Cabinet Secretary Lord O’Donnell who, in March 2016, the BBC quoted as saying: Continue reading

“Public health funerals” and “direct cremation”

A little known, but long-established area of funeral legislation that is becoming increasingly relevant

The parliamentary research paper on Key issues for the new Parliament 2015 identified Funerals and burial space as an important issue in the area of social change which should be addressed by the incoming administration. The paper noted that

“[t]he costs of a basic funeral have nearly doubled over the past ten years. Meanwhile, space for burials is becoming increasingly scarce. Can people afford the cost of dying, and even if they can, will there be space for a burial if this is what they choose?”

It cited a report published by the University of Bath in 2014 which found a small but notable increase in demand for “public health funerals” and commented that “[i]n light of ongoing issues with the Funeral Payments scheme, there is concern that local authorities may be required to provide more Public Health Funerals as the number of deaths per year rises”.

This post reviews the legislation associated with “public health” funerals (sometimes referred to, incorrectly, as “pauper’s funerals”), and the related, but much more recent practice of “direct cremation” or “direct disposal”. Continue reading

Protective security for Christian places of worship

Yesterday we posted Places of worship: security funding scheme following the Home Office announcement of the award of £2.4M towards the provision of protective security measures for places of worship in England and Wales. In parallel with this initiative and in view of recent events in France, the National Police Chiefs’ Council has issued protective security advice specific to Christian places of worship, which we reproduce in full, below. Continue reading

Places of worship: security funding scheme

This afternoon the Home Office announced the Places of worship: security funding scheme for the provision of protective security measures for places of worship in England and Wales. The scheme is part of a wider cross-government work to stop all forms of hate crime, and bids for funding can be made for the next 8 weeks until 5pm on 20 September 2016. A second round of bids will open in spring 2017. Continue reading

St James, St Michael and St Ives

A post for St James’ Day

The town of St Ives in Cornwall provides an unexpected link between an unusual burial commemoration on St James’ Day on 25th July and the more well-known celebrations in Santiago de Compostela, the traditionally accepted location of (most of) the saint’s remains, apart perhaps from an alleged relic – a mummified hand in St Peter’s Church, Marlow, Buckinghamshire. Continue reading