Published: 06:00, 01 August 2021
"The eyes of the Lord are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good" (Proverbs 15:3).
But it seems even He cannot stop people parking where they shouldn't at one Kent church car park.
A fed-up vicar has installed cameras to catch rogue users - who could now be hit with a £100 fine.
The radical measures have been introduced at All Saints Church in Whitstable, which the Rev Simon Tillotson says is being regularly abused by unauthorised parking.
Now he has applied for retrospective planning permission for warning signs.
In his application to the city council, he says: "Our car park has often been full of cars which are not anything to do with our church, hall or nursery, or scout hut.
"It's a problem which has been with us for many years but has become dramatically worse in recent months due to circumstances outside our control.
"We have had to take action to enable our weddings, funerals and church hall activity to continue, as well as our church services, as without the use of the car park these activities become very difficult."
The church has erected nine signs in its two car parks to alert unauthorised users that number plate-reading cameras - which were installed lawfully - are in opertaion.
But officials now acknowledge they should have secured permission for the signage and have now submitted a retrospective planning application.
A statement from the church's council said: "All Saints Church has brought in an ANPR system this summer as we have found that more and more people are parking their cars in our car parks who are not visiting our church, churchyard, hall, nursery school or scout hut.
"This is making it increasingly difficult for our regular visitors to find parking. It has also made it impossible to keep parking limited to a safe number of users.
"Our risk assessment picked up the irregular and unmonitored use of our car park was causing a danger to pedestrians on our site, many of whom are children and vulnerable adults."
Church bosses tried a temporary gate but discovered this was being opened by unauthorised users.
"We cannot lock the car parks as we also have a very busy church hall, scout hut and nursery school, most of which are open much of the week and all require parking for those who use these facilities," they added. "A gate system therefore has been proven not to work."
They say they had to opt instead for an ANPR system to keep the car park free of unregistered users and available for the "frequent sudden arrival" of a large number of vehicles for events such as weddings and funerals.
"The car park may look empty on occasions but this is so that it can accommodate these sudden arrivals of large number of cars," they said.
The system is monitored by Countrywide Parking, which issues parking tickets to unauthorised car park users.