Three years of tireless campaigning have been rewarded as builders move in to install security fences at a vandal-hit Leeds cemetery.
The Friends of Hunslet Cemetery were finally awarded funding for a metal fence earlier this year after Hunslet Cemetery, off Middleton Road, Belle Isle, was targeted by criminals.
More than 1,100 people backed the group’s plea for security measures on Facebook and hundreds signed an online petition after mementos were taken from baby’s graves, gravestones were vandalised and plots fouled by animals.
Builders attended the graveyard, believed to be the oldest municipal cemetery in Leeds, to start work on Tuesday.
Dawn Horkan, 38, who set up the friends group, said: “I don’t think unless you get cameras, they are going to stop.
“They are grave robbers, they’re just as low as you can get, they’re scum.”
Dawn, whose brother’s grave has had items taken from it since he died in 2009, said that the group will continue to pursue CCTV until the crimes stop.
The fence was granted as part of £100,000 of work to be done to Hunslet Cemetery and Harehills Cemetery, which is having CCTV installed due to high crime levels.
A hedge is being removed to make Hunslet Cemetery more visible and a temporary fence has been installed, before the 1.8 metre metal fences are put in place over the next three weeks.
Tracy Sheader, whose great-grandfather is buried at the cemetery, said: “To have that cemetery secured in just over three years I think is a real testament to the community spirit and to how people have got behind the group.”
Coun Kim Groves (Lab, Middleton Park) said: “They are absolutely delighted, it has been a really long journey for them, they have campaigned tirelessly and as a result of that the crime statistics are now way down.
“Along with this new fence, patrols have been increased at the cemetery by council staff and the police, which has already had a positive impact on reducing antisocial behaviour on the site.
“We do, however, appreciate there is still work to do.”