2011 was the worst year on record for the number of claims received by the specialist Anglican insurer Ecclesiastical (founded in 1887) arising from the theft of lead and other valuable metals from churches, according to a press release issued on 1 January 2012.
The total of such claims received by Ecclesiastical in 2011 exceeded 2,500, surpassing the previous record of 2,400 in 2008. The Diocese of Chelmsford headed the list for metal-related claims, followed by Lincoln, Lichfield, London, and Southwell.
Such thefts from churches were denounced by the general public in an online survey conducted by YouGov for Ecclesiastical on 13-15 December 2011, in which 2,058 UK adults aged 18 and over were interviewed.
In answer to an apparently somewhat leading question, 49% of adults claimed they were ‘appalled’ by the systematic destruction of places of worship through metal theft, with a further 37% ‘saddened’ by the crime.
79% supported tougher sentences for those convicted of stealing metal from churches (analogous to the 82% wanting harsher punishments for thefts from war memorials in a separate YouGov poll on 1-2 December 2011).
The full YouGov data have not been put into the public domain, but Ecclesiastical’s press release can be found at: