The Rothwell Neighbourhood Policing Team (NPT) are making five youths clean up Hunslet Cemetery after they were found damaging gravestones.
Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) on regular patrols in the area found the group hanging around inside the cemetery on Tuesday evening. After sending them on their way, the officers found graffiti scrawled on a number of the headstones.
PCSOs took photos of the damage using their smartphones, and found the youths yesterday afternoon. All admitted being responsible for the damage.
However, rather than prosecute the three boys and two girls, who are aged between 12 and 16, the Rothwell NPT will now put them to work cleaning up the grounds of the cemetery as part of a ‘Community Resolution’.
In addition to cleaning the graffiti from the graves, the youths will also pick up litter and will carry out grounds maintenance to improve the landscape for all who visit the cemetery.
The NPT launched additional patrols in and around the cemetery following a spate of thefts and damages last year.
Inspector Yvette Hammill, who leads the Rothwell NPT, explains: “We take any incidents in and around the cemetery extremely seriously because we understand just how upsetting they are for many members of our local community.
“Damaging gravestones is a mindless act, but on this occasion those involved are young people who haven’t previously come to our attention. Arresting them and prosecuting them could have a major impact on their future prospects and careers, and by going down this route we’re giving them a chance to learn their lesson.
“I’d like to think a day of hard graft will make them learn from their mistakes, because if they don’t and they are caught committing further offences they can expect to be arrested and prosecuted.”
Thanks to Chris Oates at West Yorkshire Police.