Yobs desecrated Jewish and Muslim gravestones in a spate of vandalism in Preston Cemetery.
Headstones were smashed in half and pushed to the ground and there are calls for CCTV cameras to catch the vandals.
Louts targeted the Hebrew and Muslim sections of the New Hall Lane site with some graves dating back to 1925 damaged. In the Muslim section, stones were toppled while memorial areas were trampled on and flowers ripped out. Yobs are believed to have climbed into the cemetery before jumping over separate fences.
Police today said the vandalism was "indiscriminate" and not deliberately anti-Semitic or anti-Muslim. But Iqbal Adam, chairman of Preston's Muslim Burial Society, said of the vandals: "They are not being civilised – they don't have feelings for anybody. They just make fun out of it – it's pretty bad. These gravestones are people and they are memories for the families. I feel very sorry for the families.It would be much better if they had CCTV."
Mr Adam – who said nothing had been sprayed on the damaged gravestones to suggest it was a racist attack – said work had begun to repair the damage.
Graham Lewis, trustee of the Preston Hebrew Congregation, said: "We are very distressed and for the families concerned who are very upset."
When asked if the attacks were racially motivated, he said: "I don't know. Given there was damage to the Muslim section and the Jewish section, it does not appear to be a deliberate target only to the Jewish community."
Det Insp Dave McKenna said: "They have damaged confined areas in the cemetery and pushed over some headstones in the Jewish and Muslim sections. We've been investigating and there is no suggestion of any racist overtones. We just think it's indiscriminate vandalism. We will be looking to take preventative measures in the future, such as CCTV. And we're appealing for anyone with information to get in touch."
A Preston Council spokesman said: "Since we began locking the main cemetery gates two and a half years ago, incidents of vandalism have decreased by 50%. Since this unfortunate incident we have begun closing the gates to the Hebrew and Muslim sections to act as a further deterrent. We are also in the process of applying for funding for cemetery railings which would further increase security.
"The issue of CCTV is one which we have looked into, however we do not believe it is feasible for a number of reasons. There are huge costs involved, the large number of surrounding trees make it impossible for all areas to be covered by cameras but, most importantly, people feel they are intrusive and the cemetery is a place that should be private."
Lancashire Evening Post