Following reports on Sunday morning, Nottinghamshire Police became aware of vandalism in Highwood Cemetery, Bulwell, with damage to memorials and their surroundings, affecting predominantly the graves of Muslims. This has been distressing to those whose loved ones are buried in the cemetery.
Police investigations are at an early stage but the incident has been recorded as a hate crime as it would appear that this part of the cemetery was targeted.
Superintendent Ted Antill, Notts Police lead on hate crime, said: “Police are working to establish who committed these offences and we have already discussed what steps we can take to prevent any recurrence. There is no evidence at this stage to suggest that this was the work of an organised group although nothing is ruled out and any information from the community would be welcome.”
The Council’s Cemeteries and Crematorium service has already visited the site to look at repairs and is in discussion with the Police about improving security without making the facility unattractive.
Nottingham City Council’s Portfolio Holder for Community Services, Councillor Nicola Heaton, said: “We recognise concerns and condemn the vandalism of any graves anywhere in the city. We are taking the concerns very seriously and are working with the police who have instigated an investigation to look at all possible causes, and working with the Muslim community to assure them that we don’t tolerate this type of behaviour.”
The council will now lock the cemetery to pedestrians as well as vehicles at 5.30pm (pedestrians can usually gain access 24 hours a day) for the immediate future and increase its presence on the site, especially at weekends, to provide reassurance to anyone attending the cemetery.
The investigation and wider responses were discussed at a meeting hosted by the Islamic Centre this morning (Monday 29 June) attended by representatives from a number of mosques and community organisations, the Chair of the Police Independent Advisory Group, city councillors as well as the Divisional Commander of the City Police, Steve Cooper, and senior officers from the Council.
Whilst condemning the act of vandalism, it was noted that this was not typical of community relations in Nottingham. Community representatives were pleased that the incident had been recorded as a hate crime and asked Police to consider practical steps to improve security and reassure those with family in the cemetery, as well as identifying those responsible. The meeting ended with a short prayer for the peace and happiness of all Nottingham’s citizens.