Grieving relatives say they are ‘disgusted’ after a spate of thefts, damage and anti-social behaviour at a Staveley cemetery.
One, Amy Goucher, has even set up a Facebook campaign group and organised a petition calling for increased security to address the problem.
And, after meeting with Amy and other concerned families, Chesterfield MP, Toby Perkins, has now called for a ‘crisis meeting’ to discuss the problem.
She said: “It has been going on a few months now with vandalism and items stolen from graves - one baby’s grave was even set on fire a few years ago.
“My grandad’s memorial is there and you’d be putting things on it and going back the day after and they had gone.
“I think it is disgusting what is happening and the graveyard is a disgrace.”
Mr Perkins said the families were ‘understandably angry’ that the graves of their loved ones were not being respected.
He said he thought the problem was being caused by children who do not appreciate the sanctity of the graves and older drug and alcohol users who are stealing items.
He said: “We need improve security, but we also need to educate our young people. I have now written to local schools, the police, the church and the council to see if we can organise a coordinated response.”
Councillor John Burrows, Chesterfield Borough Council’s leader, said: “We were made aware that a petition had been set up calling for improvements to be made to the security at Staveley Cemetery.
“Our bereavement services staff met with the organisers of the petition within a couple of days to work together to address their concerns.
“It is not appropriate to put CCTV cameras at the cemetery as we need to allow people to visit the graves of their loved ones in privacy.
“At the meeting two weeks ago, the group offered to pay for additional gates and to organise a rota of community volunteers to lock and unlock the cemetery gates. We are currently waiting to hear back from the group.
“Since the meeting, we have also arranged for bins to be emptied more frequently and for the fencing at the cemetery to be assessed.
“All memorials in the cemetery are regularly inspected to ensure their safety and our bereavement team are working with Chesterfield SANDS to consider improvements to the children’s burial area.
“I am happy to meet with Toby to make him aware of the positive steps we have been taking to improve the environment at the cemetery and would support bringing together all the agencies involved for a meeting as we had already suggested this to the organisers when we first met.”