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Police have vowed to track down vandals who toppled 14 gravestones at Accrington Cemetery

POLICE have vowed to track down vandals who toppled 14 gravestones at Accrington Cemetery.

A scene-of-crime officer checks for fingerprints on
A scene-of-crime officer checks for fingerprints on

POLICE have vowed to track down vandals who toppled 14 gravestones at Accrington Cemetery.

Distressed relatives were contacted last Friday morning to be told the headstones at the cemetery in Burnley Road had been pushed over during the night.

The wrecking spree is the latest in a long line of incidents at the borough's cemeteries. Only last week, wall
of remembrance stones at Church and Clayton-le-Moors Cemetery were smashed.

Police immediately cordoned off the damaged headstones following the incident and deployed a scene-of-crime officer to dust them down for fingerprints.

Officers have carried out house-to-house inquiries nearby and promised an increase in high-visibility patrols at the cemetery.

Inspector Phil Cottam, of Accrington Police, said: "In just one week, there have been several instances of wanton and malicious damage in places which members of the public would expect not to suffer such damage.

"It's very disheartening for people to find there is a total lack of respect for cemeteries and parks. But it's difficult to provide total security at these places because of their accessibility and openness - which is for the benefit of everyone in the community.

He added: "I would seek to reassure people that we have a patrol plan, but obviously we can't be everywhere at once. So I would appeal to any members of the community who have any information whatsoever regarding this - and any similar crimes - to contact us as a matter of urgency so that we can bring these despicable offenders to justice.''

Hyndburn Council's Cabinet portfolio holder for Environment and Cleansing, Councillor Mrs Ann Scaife, and portfolio holder for Community Safety and Young People, Councillor Mrs Janet Storey, expressed their horror after inspecting the scene at the cemetery.

They have both vowed to work with the police to do all they can to prevent such attacks in the future.

Councillor Mrs Scaife said: "I am very upset about this vandalism, both personally and on behalf of the relatives. I am asking the police for urgent action to ensure that the cemetery is patrolled in the evenings, together with the patrols that the council pays for through a private security firm.

She added: "I want to see the offenders face up to the upset they have caused the relatives, because I am sure if they appreciated the anguish this causes they would not have done it. In the longer term, we need to look at facilities for young people in the area."

Councillor Mrs Storey added: "A cemetery is the one place where you think you would not need security."

The two councillors are hoping to set up a meeting with representatives of the police, security companies, cemetery manager Janice Tolson and Head of Environmental Services, Steve Todd, to discuss what can be done to improve security in Hyndburn's cemeteries.


Stuart Pike
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