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Cemetery where homeless sleep inside graves targeted in council clean up

A Cambridge cemetery where homeless people sleep in graves by moving tombstones is to be targeted to..

By admin , in Cambridge , at March 30, 2018

A Cambridge cemetery where homeless people sleep in graves by moving tombstones is to be targeted to tackle illegal camps, drug taking and dirty needles.

Mill Road cemetery is a notorious haunt for drug users and rough sleepers and some have been seen pushing the stones off the top of tombs and using them as beds for the night.

Passers-by have also spotted the homeless sitting in the graves while injecting themselves and drinking.

Mill Road Cemetery (Image: Warren Gunn)

City council clean ups

The council's team of litter pickers regularly target the cemetery – and volunteers are clearing up vegetation so there is nowhere to camp.

A city council spokesman said: “Council officers have been working with the Friends of Mill Road Cemetery group to identify hotspots for anti-social behaviour in the cemetery, such as littering, rough sleeping and drug taking, and to draw up an action plan to tackle them.

"As a result of this meeting we will open up areas of the cemetery currently covered by vegetation, which could provide cover for illegal camping, drug taking or other forms of antisocial behaviour.

"This work will take place once the bird nesting season is over. We will also be carrying out regular patrols of the cemetery and its known hotspots to deter antisocial behaviour, including dog fouling and littering.”

Council went to stop dog poo – and found this

A report Cambridge City Council's environmental team said: "No fixed penalty notices issued for dog fouling over this period.

"However issues continue within the cemetery with regards to rough sleeping and needle finds. A walk-about is due to take place to discuss a way forward in resolving some of the issues in the cemetery.

"Three incidents of illegal camping were dealt with over this period. The cemetery continues to be a priority both for the enforcement team and for the area enforcement officer and street life officer.

"The street life officer for the enforcement team has dealt with nine incidents of abandoned property from people sleeping in the cemetery over this period. A total of 213 needles have been removed from the cemetery over this reporting period."

Cambridge city council, 'Rapid Response' team at Mill Road cemetery in Cambridge.

Volunteers undertake various regular works in the cemetery and a community payback team helped with the clearing of piles of cutbacks created by the volunteers.

Dirty needle count

These are the number of needles found in the graveyard in previous clean ups.

  • 11 needles removed from Mill Road cemetery in Petersfield ward in February 2018
  • 20 needles were removed from Mill Road Cemetery in (a separate occurrence to the above) in February 2018.
  • 35 needles were removed from Mill Road Cemetery (in a third instance) in February 2018.
  • 10 needles were removed from Mill Road Cemetery in Petersfield ward in November 2017.
  • 20 needles were removed from the corner of Mill Road Cemetery – near Ditchburn Place in November 2017.
  • 45 needles were removed from Mill Road Cemetery in Petersfield ward in October 2017.
  • 60 needles were removed (in addition to above) in Mill Road cemetery in October 2017.
  • 12 needles were removed from near the wall to Ditchburn Place in Mill Road Cemetery in Early October 2017.

Chequered past

In 2012 police highlighted the issues in the cemetery, as the News reported.

PC Alan Tregilgas said at the time: "It is not unusual to find drunken persons sleeping in this area and in some cases tombstone lids have been pushed off so they can sleep inside.

"One resident said she was shocked when she saw a male sitting on a grave with his trousers down injecting himself in his thigh in full view of everyone."

Gail Marchant-Paisley, a city councillor for the Petersfield area of Cambridge at the time, said: "I have heard residents say that people are sleeping in the tombs, which may be linked to an increase in the number of homeless in the city."

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