Hidden cameras to be placed in Leeds Catholic Cemetery to catch fly-tippers and arsonists
Hidden cameras are to be installed at Leeds Catholic Cemetery in Killingbeck in a bid to catch fly-tippers and arsonists following a string of incidents.
Killingbeck is the only Leeds cemetery to have an open-gates policy, enabling people to visit graves in the summer evenings.
However, litter and old wrappings from floral tributes are often seen scattered across the site.
In recent weeks, staff have arrived at work to find their skips have been filled to the brim overnight with large items of kitchen and bedroom furniture and household and garden waste.
One skip was also set alight, with fire-crews attending in the early hours of the morning.
Attempts to secure the skips behind tall wire fences only resulted in the fly-tippers dumping their rubbish on the ground outside, throwing it over the fence, and more recently even on a path between grave plots.
Past suggestions to restrict vehicular access other than for funerals after cars used in criminal activity were driven into the cemetery and set alight were met with strong opposition from bereaved families and individuals, many of whom have mobility issues and need to drive as close as possible to visit a grave.
A spokeswoman for the Diocese of Leeds said: "We’re always very grateful to the public-spirited people in the local community who call the police if they witness criminal behaviour at Killingbeck.
"The callous disregard these fly-tippers have for mourners and their loved-ones’ graves and for the local environment means we are now seriously considering whether to lock the gates at 5pm.
"We’re not funded by the Council.
"As the Catholic Church in this region we’re a charity, and our staff already work hard to keep up with the ongoing challenges of maintenance, grass-cutting and clearing litter.
"In all compassion, we do not want to have to lock the gates and prevent bereaved people from visiting graves in the evenings during these summer months, so we’re hoping hidden cameras will now deter most criminal activity and identify those still intent on treating this consecrated ground with such disrespect."
Anyone noticing suspicious or out-of-hours activity at Killingbeck should call West Yorkshire Police.