An angry row has broken out over a petition to install CCTV in a cemetery that neighbours say is a hotspot for yobs and anti-social behaviour.
The Friends of Fox’s Bank Cemetery in Whiston claim local youths have been congregating in the cemetery at night to drink, take drugs and vandalise graves.
But the council has said the Friends group is causing “undue alarm in the community and falsely representing the facts”.
Kerry Saunderson, a member of the Friends group, said she had found discarded laughing gas canisters in the cemetery and claimed flowers and other items had been stolen from graves.
Last summer, she added, someone even drove a car and several scrambler bikes over the graveyard, leaving tyre marks in the soil.
She said: “It’s downright disrespectful. One day it will be their family, you can’t stop time. At some point in their lives, they are going to be faced with exactly the same situation and thinking ‘What was I doing when I was a kid?’”
Ms Saunderson and the other Friends want CCTV installed in the cemetery to deter anti-social behaviour and have launched a petition calling on Knowsley Council to take action.
But the council has said the area is not a hot spot for anti-social behaviour and CCTV would not be justified.
A council spokesperson said: “We are aware of the petition being circulated online. It claims that there has been ‘an increase in crime and anti-social behaviour’.
“However the statistics simply don’t back this up and we became concerned that these claims were causing undue alarm in the community and falsely representing the facts.”
The spokesperson added that the council had met with the Friends in June 2019, after the incident with the car and the scrambler bikes, and at the time had told the friends to report any incidents of antisocial behaviour.
The spokesperson said: “However since then, we have not received any such reports. Our daily inspections of the cemetery have discovered no evidence of damage or vandalism.
“In fact the Friends group have not been in contact with us recently with any such concerns and the first we knew of these new claims of an ‘increase’ in crime and anti-social behaviour was when the petition began to be circulated.”
But the council’s response, posted on its website, has drawn an angry reaction from the Friends group, who say it has been difficult to report anti-social behaviour to the council.
Ms Saunderson told the LDRS: “If there was no problem with the cemetery, why have 1,500 people signed the petition?”