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Call for CCTV in cemeteries – but council say it's 'not appropriate'

CCTV cameras cannot be installed at Peterborough cemetery, despite pleas from the family of a man whose grave was vandalised this summer - say the council.
Members of the public have called for CCTV in cemeteries (Photo: John Baker)

Over the past three years there have been seven cases of cemetery thefts reported in Peterborough, according to data released following a Freedom of Information Act request.

The data shows there was one incident in 2017, five in 2018 and one this year yet no arrests have been made in connection with the attacks.

In three of the cases there were signs of vandals, while one incident involved a man approaching the aggrieved and asking for his man bag before trying to forcefully take it. 

Most recently, a heart monument was stolen from the grave of John Duffy in Eastfield Cemetery in July.

At the time, his granddaughter Lauren Nightingale said: "We all felt very sad and angry and we all felt like we couldn’t understand why someone would do this to my grandad's grave out of all the graves and why someone would do something so horrible."

It is thought that these figures are just the tip of the iceberg as there are frequent appeals on social media indicating that thefts from graves and vandalism are more widespread.

As a result there have been calls for CCTV to be installed to act as a deterrent and also to help identify those responsible.

However, Peterborough City Council have this week said they are still unable to install CCTV in the cemetery, but revealed they are continuing their efforts to prevent this type of crime.

A spokesman for Peterborough City Council said: "We are aware of the theft and are continuing to work with the family and the police on the matter. 

"Thefts at the cemetery are a rare occurrence. 

"Although considered, with the cemetery being over 26 acres, CCTV is not an appropriate measure due to the large area it would need to  cover. However, we will continue to work on the best course of action to deter these crimes from happening in the future."

The council do point out that they have grounds maintenance staff on site during the day.

Explaining the impact these crimes have on victims, Lauren said: "I was very close with my grandad and I find it very hard to cope with things like this, so I broke down in tears when someone destroyed my grandads grave the way they have.

"My mum also had to rush down to the grave when she heard the devastating news about her dad's grave and she felt heartbroken that someone would do such a thing to her dad's grave when he was such a lovely and generous man."

Following Lauren's public appeal to find the heart monument, a local resident reached out to share her concern about things getting taken from the cemetery and again encouraged the council to install CCTV. 

Local resident Susan Lambert said: "It's horrible for the families and at Eastfield Cemetery it's been an issue for years. We need CCTV to stop people from ruining headstones. It's not fair on their loved ones."