Investigation after dozens of graves vandalised at County Durham cemetery

Some of the graves which were knocked over or damaged at Pelton Cemetery. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees News

An investigation is underway after 36 graves were damaged or knocked over in a spate of vandalism at a County Durham cemetery.

The vandalism at Pelton Cemetery in Chester-le-Street was reported on Monday 28 November.

Durham County Council is currently investigating the damage, with representatives assessing the extent of the vandalism.

The council's bereavement services team is in the process of contacting the affected families and its 'clean and green team' has begun temporarily reinstating and securing the headstones while conversations are ongoing with the families.

Neighbourhood wardens will also be carrying out increased patrols in the area. The council is encouraging members of the public to report any information they may have to the police.

Paul Hutchinson's dad is buried in the cemetery. Although his grave has not been affected he said the vandalism has caused devastation for those families affected.

He said: "I can't understand why somebody would do this. It's obviously malicious or something they think's fun.

"There is a lot of anger in the community at the minute and people are looking round to find out who'se done it.

"Obviously the devastation this will cause, with all the pain and upset of what's happened, it's just unbelievable."

An investigation is underway after damage was caused at Pelton Cemetery. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees news

Councillor Mark Wilkes, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for neighbourhoods and climate change, said: “This is a devastating incident affecting a number of families and we are appalled that anyone would seek to cause damage to headstones.

“We are supporting the families that have been affected and are in the process of contacting them about the reinstatement of the headstones. I would encourage anyone who has information about this incident to contact the police to help them identify who is responsible.”

Neighbourhood wardens said they will now be carrying out increased patrols in the area. Credit: Paul Hutchinson

He added: "I'm more disappointed than I've ever been...We need to find out who has done this and we need to make sure that this can never happen again."

Lee Morris, neighbourhood inspector at Durham Constabulary, said: “We received a report of damage to several headstones from a member of the public in Cemetery House, Pelton Lane, on November 28. Enquiries are ongoing.

“Anyone with information should report it quoting incident reference 176 of November 28 via our Live Chat.”

Anyone with information about the incident is encouraged to contact Durham Constabulary or report it anonymously through Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or online.

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