Police say graveyard vandalism was racist

DETECTIVES investigating another attack on Muslim graves in a Leeds cemetery are treating the incident as racially-motivated.

In the latest incident 24 Muslim graves were damaged in Harehills Cemetery overnight between Sunday and Monday with name plaques ripped off graves and one stone pushed over in what police have described as a "vile and despicable" act.

Following damage to graves in September police installed hidden CCTV cameras in and around the cemetery and this footage is being analysed by officers.

Insp Michael Lawrenson, who leads the Gipton and Harehills Neighbourhood Policing Team, said yesterday: "Since this damage was reported to us yesterday afternoon we have been in contact with community leaders to help us identify and contact the next of kin of those whose graves have been damaged in this mindless act of racially motivated vandalism.

"We are also in the process of examining covert CCTV footage from around the cemetery since the last incident as well as continuing to progress some forensic work from the scene.

"The latest damage undermines much of the work that we have done alongside Leeds City Council to make the area as secure as possible through increased and regular patrols from neighbourhood wardens and police officers as well as the installation and monitoring of covert CCTV cameras.

"However, and with the security of any cemetery, a delicate balance needs to be struck between securing the site and ensuring that people can easily access the area to pay their respects.

"People living locally should know that we are doing everything we can to bring those responsible to justice and I would ask for their continued support in tackling this very difficult issue."

Anyone with information is asked to contact Det Cons Pearson at Stainbeck CID on 0845 6060606.