Youngsters’ skateboard ‘funeral’ sparks fears of grave digging and Nazi salutes

PUBLISHED: 14:48 26 February 2018 | UPDATED: 06:04 27 February 2018

Dereham Cemetery. Picture: Ian Burt

Dereham Cemetery. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant 2017

A group of Dereham youngsters were wrongly accused of desecrating a graveyard and making Nazi salutes as they held a funeral for their much-loved... skateboard.

It comes after photographs of the children, believed to be aged between 11 and 13, were published online on social media.

The images, now removed from Facebook, showed them digging a hole in the grounds of the town’s cemetery, on Cemetery Road, and raising their arms in what appeared to be an inappropriate gesture with the words “the funeral” typed across the photograph.

Norfolk police were called following the incident and attended the site at the weekend.

A police spokesperson said: “We can confirm no graves have been damaged or disturbed and no offences committed. “There was an area of grass inside the cemetery which had been disturbed by a group of youths playing a prank with a broken skateboard.”

They added that the people involved would be spoken to and would be “given words of advice concerning the making and use of inappropriate gestures”.

Dereham mayor Hilary Bushell said it had been a “very sad situation”.

She said: “Luckily no graves were disturbed and no serious damage was done, thank goodness.

“I think it was all a bit sad really.

“We will leave it in the capable hands of the police to deal with now.”

It follows another unrelated incident which happened at the cemetery earlier this month.

Visitors were left distressed after a member of grounds staff removed items left on loved ones’ graves.

Dereham Town Council issued an apology to the families and friends of those who have been affected by the “honest mistake” made by the member of staff.

Items including toys, vases and flowers were removed instead of Christmas wreaths. It was thought that of the 5,000 graves in the cemetery, a few hundred were affected.

The cemetery has been largely untouched by criminal activity for 150 years and any low level crime issues in the past have been dealt with by police through increased patrols.

- A new cemetery is expected to open next month on Norwich Road and will serve the town for the next 200 years.

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