Some of you may have seen the report in the Bracknell News, read on social media or heard elsewhere about an assault taking place last week in our K2 building. Rather than letting the rumour mill run wild I wanted to let you all know first hand what happened, and what we're doing about it.
Last Thursday (20th November) Henry Forrest, one of our site services team, was working on his own in K2 when he saw two men come into the building who he didn't recognise. Henry challenged them and asked them what they wanted. They asked if there was any cash in the building. Henry replied that there wasn’t and told them they had to leave. As Henry was escorting them out of the building one of the two men turned and punched Henry, after which they left. Henry was left with a small cut on his cheek and was obviously shaken.
The incident was immediately reported to the police who have taken statements and have a description of the offenders. Hopefully they will be found and brought to justice.
Thankfully incidents like this are incredibly rare - as far as I'm aware this is the most serious incident we've had since the Kerith Centre or K2 were opened. Having said that the safety of people using our facilities is something I and the rest of the team take incredibly seriously. I never want us to be naive or complacent over safety, especially as we are increasingly dealing with a wider and wider cross section of society, and more and more widely known as a place where people can get help.
In terms of the safety of staff and volunteers, we were already in the process of taking a number of steps to increase our security, steps which we will now accelerate.
We are planning training for key staff and volunteers around how to best deal with difficult people, and with situations where they may start to feel uncomfortable or unsafe. We are looking to install CCTV in key areas, as a deterrent, to allow monitoring of what is happening around the buildings, and in order to provide evidence in the case of anything happening. We are also reviewing our processes around visitors who raise concerns or who become aggressive, and how receptionists and others can quickly get help if required.
We do have to strike a tricky balance of making our facilities welcoming and accessible for people who genuinely want and need to engage with all we do, whilst making sure it is a safe environment for all if someone chooses to abuse our welcome. We will keep reviewing what we do in order to make sure we get that balance right.
Let's also be praying for protection for all who use our buildings. Our battle is not against flesh and blood, so whilst we will take all the practical steps we can let us also be asking for God to defend us and fight for us.
Please let me know if you have any questions. If you hear people talking about the incident, please do your best to reassure them that our buildings are still safe places to be, that incidents like this one are taken very seriously even if they are rare, and that we are always looking to see where we need to strengthen our practices.