Tearaways spotted in graveyard.. FIXING the headstones

posted 2 Sept 2010, 01:35 by South Edinburgh Net Admin
Their crimes may not have been monumental, but their punishments will be.

Low-level offenders are to be let off menial duties so they can re-erect toppled gravestones in city cemeteries instead.

They will be repairing broken and vandalised stones, as well as some of those laid flat as a result of a controversial health and safety drive by the city council.

Groups of offenders, aged between 22 and 40, will undertake work at the city's Liberton Cemetery as part of a pilot scheme backed by the Scottish Government.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, who was due to launch the scheme at Liberton today, said the programme would provide a service to the local community and ensure offenders carried out some "tough manual labour".

He said: "Cemeteries should be a place of quiet reflection, a place to pay your respects and to remember loved ones lost.

"Unfortunately, the scene at many cemeteries in Edinburgh, and more widely across Scotland, is one of fallen and broken headstones. That is unacceptable, it's a bugbear of many communities up and down the country, and this project will see action being taken to rectify it.

"The council and church workers do their best, but finding the resources and labour required to carry out these repairs is often a real struggle for many."

He added: "We want to get these offenders out doing some hard work, carrying out tough manual labour to repay their dues to the community they've harmed, whilst delivering improvements which the community will benefit from."

Mr MacAskill said that if it proves successful, he would like to see the scheme rolled out across Scotland, coupled with projects to remove the graffiti which taints many headstones.

He said: "This is exactly the kind of initiative we want to see more of. Edinburgh City Council are to be congratulated, but this is a common problem for many communities across Scotland and I'm sure other local authorities may look at this and want to follow suit.

"The statistics are clear and show that short-term prison sentences do not work for low-level offenders. Three quarters of those given a short term prison term go on to re-offend within two years of getting out, whereas three out of five given a community-based sentence do not.

Full story by RORY REYNOLDS in Edinburgh Evening News