They bring a message of “peace on Earth and goodwill to all men” but carol singers are to be warned away from doorsteps this Christmas in case they appear threatening.By John Bingham
Published: 2:02PM GMT 11 Nov 2009
Signs are to warn christmas carol singers away from doorsteps in case people feel threatened. Photo: Paul Grover
Police and neighbourhood watch organisers in one area of Lancashire have produced official notices for nervous residents to place in their windows telling the festive singers not to call.
The yellow postcard-sized signs, which are also being handed out at libraries and GPs’ surgeries, read: “Sorry no carol singers, I won't open my door to you.”
Produced by the Safer Chorley and South Ribble Partnership, an umbrella body for police, local councils and neighbourhood watch groups, they have already been distributed in Penwortham, a middle class suburb of Preston and there are plans to hand them out more widely.
It represents an extension of a tactic widely used at Hallowe’en to deter unwanted trick-or-treaters. A similar message on the reverse of the cards warns unwanted trick-or-treaters not to call.
Some church leaders said that the suggestion that people are now afraid of carol singers represented an alarming reflection on modern Britain.
“It is a terrible state of affairs that people are terrified of answering their doors, so this is what they have to do," said Father Timothy Lipscomb, the Vicar of Preston, the parish priest for the city's Minster.
The Rev Christopher Nelson, vicar of Penwortham, said it could be seen as “insensitive” to group Christmas and Hallowe’en together but said that the organisers had good intentions to protect vulnerable people.
Cllr Mary Robinson, a Conservative member of Penwortham Town Council, said: “Are they saying that they have replaced hoodies with Father Christmas hats?"
She went on: “It isn’t a concern that has been brought to me, I would say that in the current economic climate a little bit of festive cheer might be welcomed by a lot of people.”
Organisers said that the cards were produced in response to demand from vulnerable residents who said that large groups of people left them feeling nervous.
There have been a handful of cases elsewhere in the country in which burglars have posed as carol singers.
Chief Inspector Richard Robertshaw of Lancashire Police rejected accusations of a “bah-humbug” approach.
“Singing Christmas carols is a wonderful tradition which we encourage, as long as children are considerate,” he said.
“But while carol singers bring festive cheer to many, we must bear in mind there are residents who for a variety of genuine reasons, are not comfortable with having groups of people at their doors.”