Council to cover cost of damage to headstones at Hebburn Cemetery

Vandals have damaged graves and strewn litter around Hebburn Cemetery.
Vandals have damaged graves and strewn litter around Hebburn Cemetery.

Security is set to be stepped up in a South Tyneside cemetery as council chiefs pledged to foot the bill for damage done by ‘sick’ vandals.

Families were left distraught when they visited Hebburn Cemetery at the weekend to find headstones had been ripped up.

Tommy Oughton at the graveside of his wife Mary

Tommy Oughton at the graveside of his wife Mary

It is the second time in a week that the cemetery has been hit by yobs.

The week before, vandals had strewn litter including beer cans, tea bags and dog muck across graves.

After the latest attack moves are being taken to step up security at the site including the use of a mobile CCTV camera.

Families affected are also being contacted by the council’s bereavement service with a view to discussing putting right what the vandals have destroyed.

Coun John McCabe

Coun John McCabe

Hebburn Coun John McCabe said: “The bereavement team has been contacted and will be speaking with the families of those who have been affected. Council leader, Coun Iain Malcolm, has been approached and authorised for the council to cover the cost for work to repair the damage.

“The families affected have already faced enough heartache by what has been a despicable crime carried out by sick individuals.”

Coun McCabe added: “A plan of action has been put in place to take steps to increase security in the cemetery.

“The police have already stepped up patrols and are continuing to carry out their investigations to find those responsible.”

Coun Moira Smith, lead member for area management and community safety at South Tyneside Coiuncil, said: “Under normal circumstances, families are responsible for the upkeep of headstones. However, we recognise how extreme and upsetting these incidents have been for loved ones. “As a gesture of goodwill, we have arranged for a stonemason to restore the headstones at the council’s expense on this occasion.

“We hope this will go some way towards easing the distress of the families affected.

“We would urge anyone who may have information about these incidents to contact Northumbria Police.”