Video released after vandals attack graves in cemetery near Chester-le-Street - police appeal for information
Heartless vandals have damaged dozens of gravestones in a cemetery.
Now Durham County Council and Durham Constabulary are appealing to the public for any information after to help trace those responsible for the attack at Pelton Cemetery, near Chester-le-Street.
The council has stepped up patrols in response to the incident in which at least 36 headstones have been damaged or knocked over.
Staff are working to assess the extent of the damage and the authority’s bereavement services team is in the process of contacting the families whose relatives’ graves have been targeted.
The council’s clean and green team has begun work to temporarily reinstate and secure the headstones while discussions are ongoing with the families, and neighbourhood wardens will be carrying out increased patrols in the area.
The council is also encouraging members of the public to report any information they may have to the police.
Coun Mark Wilkes, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for neighbourhoods and climate change, said he was disgusted by what had happened: “This is a devastating incident affecting a number of families and we are appalled that anyone would seek to cause damage to headstones,” he said.
“We are supporting the families that have been affected and are in the process of contacting them about the reinstatement of the headstones.”
He urged anyone who knew anything about the incident to come forward: "I would encourage anyone who has information about this incident to contact the police to help them identify who is responsible.”
Durham Constabulary neighbourhood inspector Lee Morris echoed the call for anyone who was able to help with the investigation to come forward as soon as possible: “We received a report of damage to several headstones from a member of the public in Cemetery House, Pelton Lane, on November 28,” he said.
"Enquiries are ongoing.
“Anyone with information should report it, quoting incident reference 176 of November 28, via our Live Chat at 101 Live Chat (durham.police.uk) .”
Anyone who has any information about the incident but does not wish to contact police directly can report it anonymously through Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or online at www.crimestoppers.co.uk