BLACKBURN Diocese bosses and police have issued guidance to Lancashire churches to combat the wave of metal theft.

Anglican leaders have repeated their advice to priests to always report church crime, including metal theft, to the police.

The most high profile such crime came in May, when an antique church organ was completely dismantled when metal thieves ransacked the Grade II-listed Holy Trinity, in Mount Pleasant, Blackburn. Thieves smashed a side window, took all of the organ’s internal metal parts and also snatched lead from the roof.

The police and Diocese bosses have issued a checklist of safety tips to help churches to reduce metal theft: They include reporting suspicious activity, security lighting and using alternative metals. emergency line 999 or report lesser incidents on the 101 non-emergency number;

• Avoid leaving anything lying around that could be used to help a thief, for example ladders;

• Make it difficult for thieves to move stolen goods by storing wheelbarrows and wheelie bins securely.;

• Consider anti-vandal paint and property marking;

• Use alternative materials to lead for any repairs - to reduce the risk of becoming a target for thieves;

• Regularly check your roofs so that any theft is found before it rains and further damage is caused; and

• Consider installing security lighting, particularly at roof level where metal roof coverings are present.

Holy Trinity, a gothic Anglican parish church is under the care of the Churches Conservation Trust because of its significance.

A new law to tackle the problem of scrap metal thefts has been welcomed by Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson and Hyndburn MP Graham Jones.

The Scrap Metal Dealers Act, which became law in February, reforms the rules governing the scrap metal industry, creating a tougher, locally administered, licence regime.

The bill for the first time it gives the police and local authorities the power to close down unlicensed dealers.