The Police Service of Northern Ireland received twenty-nine reports of violent crimes perpetrated against members of the clergy and ‘religious’ over the past three years, the Sentinel can reveal.
Priests, Nuns, Ministers, Vicars, Vergers and a Missionary worker were all reported to have been victims of a range of violent offences between January 2011 and December 2013.
For example, police officers received three reports of sexual offences having been perpetrated against members of the clergy over the three years.
Two Priests were the reported victims in 2011 and one Nun was the reported victim in 2012. There were twelve reports of assaults against Ministers, Church officers and Priests, some of which involved injury to the victim.
There were four instances of robbery, three against Priests and one against a Missionary worker.
There were also several instances of clergy having suffered harassment, the police record reveals.
A Verger, Minister and Vicar were reported to have been harassed in 2011; a Minister was reported to have been harassed in 2012; and two Priests were reported to have been harassed in 2013. The last reported instance of harassment - against a Priest - occurred as recently as December 20, 2013.
There were also several reports of individuals threatening to kill members of the clergy.
In February 2011, the life of a Church officer was reportedly threatened; a Priest’s life was threatened in August 2011; and there was another report of a Church officer having been threatened in September 2011.
One member of the clergy also suffered serious injury in early 2013. Police received a report in January of last year of an individual having caused ‘death or serious injury’ to a Priest through ‘careless of inconsiderate driving.’
The PSNI released the details of the twenty-nine reported assaults in response to a Freedom of Information request.
The information released includes all reported instances of offences of violence against the person, sexual offences and robbery against members of the clergy.
The PSNI Statistics Branch released the details of crimes where the victim’s occupation was listed as ‘religious.’
In the police records this includes Bishops, Church officers, Deacons, Evangelists, Imams, Ministers, Missionary workers, Monks, Nuns, Preachers, Priests, Salvation Army officers, Vergers and Vicars, but only the categories listed above were victims.
Meanwhile, providing further proof that nothing’s sacred anymore there were an incredible 106 instances of grave stones having been stolen between 2009 and 2013 across Northern Ireland.
Headstone thefts spiked in 2010 at thirty five. There were 19 reports in 2009; 20 in 2011; 17 in 2012; and 15 in 2013.