HISTORIC churches across north and west Wiltshire are being urged by police to check their security precautions and take further action if necessary.

The move follows a series of incidents in which property has been vandalised with graffiti and gravestones and windows damaged.

Wiltshire Police issued the advice after incidents in Malmesbury, Warminster and Westbury, as well as in Salisbury.

In Malmesbury, unknown offenders entered the cemetery grounds on December 9 and smashed paving stones left by a chapel.

They also picked up stones and threw them through stained glass chapel windows, smashing the glass and causing £150 worth of damage.

In Warminster, unknown suspects painted in white spray paint "Satan rules CofE via Gov" on 800-year-old doors to a church on December 10.

Police said: “This would be deeply offensive to the members of the parish. The paint has been partially removed, but further cleaning may damage the woodwork.”

In Westbury, unknown suspects broke into a parish garden on January 16 by unknown means and damaged a gravestone and a stone seat.

Now, police are urging parochial church councils to take some simple steps to help protect their church from criminals.

They are being asked to work with their local police community support officers to help prevent items from being stolen and property being damaged.