Call to step up security after Lowestoft cemetery raids

ACTION is being demanded to improve security at Lowestoft Cemetery after a series of incidents that have seen headstones damaged and treasured items stolen from graves.

Families say the problems have caused huge upset for people whose loved ones' graves have been targeted, and left some feeling so threatened they are reluctant to visit the site.

But Waveney District Council says that, while it sympathises with bereaved families, it is limited in what it can do.

Peter Tindsley, 56, is calling for action taken to improve safety and security after seeing the upset caused to friends when items were stolen from their child's grave at the cemetery, in Normanston Drive.

Mr Tindsley, who lives near the cemetery, said it should be a place of respect where people could spend time in peace and quiet, but the persistent incidents of vandalism and theft were making this impossible.

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'I am aware of people who have felt threatened when visiting graves of loved ones to such an extent that they have had to leave the cemetery sooner than they would have wished,' he said. 'I have asked a lot of people if they have had interference with their stones and a lot of them have, but they don't report it. People don't want it to come back on them – this is the problem.'

A Lowestoft couple, who asked to remain anonymous as they feared reprisals, said they had trinkets stolen from their son's grave. The couple, both aged 27, said: 'We initially got a call telling us something had been taken off the grave.

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'It is so upsetting to hear about it, and then come down and see it; it rips your heart out. It might be a little thing but it was there for our little boy. It puts you off putting more on there.'

They added: 'I never thought people could be so insensitive to take things off graves.'

A Lowestoft father, aged 46, who also asked to remain anonymous, said he had witnessed a lack of respect in the way people were using the ceremony, including allowing dogs to roam off the lead and foul on graves.

He said: 'This is a place of respect. I'm here every day and all I can do for my boy is to keep his stone clean. It's bad enough to have lost a child without having the grave being damaged or treated with no respect.

'It is not just one – it is all the graves here.'

Waveney District Council oversees the upkeep of the cemetery. A spokesman said: 'This is clearly upsetting for bereaved families and we would urge anyone who sees or hears anything suspicious to report it to the police. Unfortunately it is almost impossible to improve security, given that the cemetery is only surrounded by a low wall. However we work very closely with the local constabulary on matters like this and will continue to do so.'

PC David Stranks, of Lowestoft North Safer Neighbourhood Team, said the police would to their best to rectify the problems at the cemetery, and encouraged people to report incidents. 'We sympathise with problems and agree this is a place of respect and people should not be doing this,' he said.

?Anyone with information on incidents at Lowestoft Cemetery should ring the police on 101.

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