‘Vandalised’ Holt gravestones actually ‘respectfully laid down’

A police photo of one of the graves in Holt Cemetery. Photo: @NorthNorfPolice

A police photo of one of the graves in Holt Cemetery. Photo: @NorthNorfPolice - Credit: Archant

A misunderstanding by Norfolk Police over the state of gravestones in Holt cemetery has led to a swift and firm rebuttal by the town council.

Police originally thought about 50 gravestones in the Cley Road cemetery had been vandalised and appealed on Sunday for information, branding the action: 'an act of disgraceful criminal damage.'

But it has emerged that the affected headstones had been 'very respectfully laid down' by Holt Town Council, which owns the cemetery, because of serious safety fears over their condition.

Town clerk Elaine Oliver said it had been noticed that a couple of headstones had been in a 'very bad state', triggering an emergency inspection last week.

'We found about 50 were very dangerous and wobbly and there have been cases where children have been killed by falling headstones,' said Mrs Oliver.

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A later police tweet said: 'Further enquiries had revealed that the 50 gravestones that have been pushed over have been done by the council'.

But Mrs Oliver said the council strongly rejected the phrase 'pushed over.'

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'They have not been 'pushed over'. They were very respectfully laid down, with great care and sensitivity,' she added.

The graves were in a part of the cemetery mostly used in the 1960s and 1970s.

'We are doing our best to let the owners know but it can be very, very difficult tracing people.'

A police spokesman said a member of the public had contacted the police to report damage to 50 gravestones.

He added: 'A tweet was then issued from a PCSO asking the public for assistance. On further investigation it became apparent that the town council had laid the headstones down due to safety concerns.

'No crime had been committed and clear signage is to be put in place to make people aware of the ongoing survey.'

Anyone who believes a family grave may have been affected should ring Holt Town Council on 01263 712149.

What do you think? Email EDPLetters@archant.co.uk or write to EDP Letters, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE.

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