LOCALS say their historic town is being ruined by sex-mad drinkers using a redundant churchyard for their romps.
Cops have called for railings to be built around the raised tombs in order to stop revellers having sex on top of them.
Officers have also taken grave offence about the 3ft high historic tombs being used as makeshift tables for street drinkers and drug users.
They hope that the installation of railings will dampen “sexual activity” behind the former St Stephen’s church in Arras Square in Ipswich, Suffolk.
The police comments were made in response to a planning application drawn up by Ipswich Borough Council to refurbish the town centre square in a £900,000 project.
Lucy Mures, a Design Out Crime officer for Suffolk Constabulary, said in a letter to the council that the area had become known for its high levels of crime and anti-social behaviour.
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She pointed to the use of the tombs by amorous couples and drug users as a particular problem.
Her letter stated: “In publicly accessible but secluded locations such as this, it is sadly common to find raised tombstones being used as ‘tables’ to consume alcohol and drugs.
“They are also sometimes the site of sexual activity. In a religious setting, this anti-social behaviour is particularly disrespectful.
“It is more likely that this will occur in the area at the back of the church when the protective railings are removed.
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“It is recommended that measures are taken to deter activity on top of the tombstones. It could be an ‘enclosure’ for the whole tombstone… or a small railing approximately 20cm high around the top edge of the tombstone, as has been used elsewhere in the town.”
In a religious setting, this anti-social behaviour is particularly disrespectful
Ms Mures letter which is visible on the council website said incidents recorded last year included people fighting, begging and urinating, possession of cocaine and cannabis and rough sleeping by homeless people.
She added: “Making positive improvements to the location itself can create a hostile environment for anyone intent on causing crime and also protect those who wish to enjoy the public space safely.”
Ms Mures also called for reduced seating to stop people gathering, CCTV to cover the whole site and retractable shutters for recessed fire exits to stop people urinating in them.
She said: “It is recommended that retractable shutters linked to the fire alarms that automatically open in the event of an activation are installed as part of this redevelopment.”
Ms Mures insisted that her recommendations met national planning guidelines “to achieve healthy, inclusive and safe places which are safe and accessible, so that crime and disorder, and the fear of crime, do not undermine the quality of life or community cohesion”.
Council proposals to redevelop the area include plans to re-pave and re-level the square, remove some trees and install new ones, improve lighting and remove boundary walls.
It follows a recent change of use for St Stephen’s church which has become a music and community space, after earlier being used as a tourist information centre.
Ms Mures concluded: “Suffolk Constabulary does not object to this application but does request that conditions requiring the installation of CCTV to cover the whole site and a reduction in the amount of permanent seating are included in any permission granted.
“These conditions are deemed to be enforceable, realistic and relevant to planning in view of the high crime and ASB levels recorded in the area.”
Steve McGoochan, 62, the chairman of Ipswich Central Conservative Club which overlooks the tombs, said: “The behaviour of some people is awful.
“I regularly see crackheads hanging around in broad daylight. I have also seen people having sex on the tombs after the nightclubs close at 3am.
“People use the areas as a toilet, and the council have to steam clean it every week. I saw couple of smack heads having a fight down here only yesterday morning,”
I regularly see crackheads hanging around in broad daylight. I have also seen people having sex on the tombs after the nightclubs close at 3am.
Mr McGoochan’s partner Linda Smith, 61, the steward at the club, said: “There are often gangs of kids hanging around.
“If you put something outside, you get a mouthful of abuse from them. The state of the paths is the worst thing. I am always seeing people tripping up.”
Jan Ordowski, a committee member at the club, said: “It is just disgusting. I was really surprised to hear that people were having sex on top of tombs
“It shows no respect for people lying beneath the ground which is just dreadful. The council have been talking about improving this area for years and it is time something was done.”
Another person who lives nearby, said: “I am always seeing drug users off their heads.
"One of the lids of the tombs used to be loose and I would see junkies lifting it up and hiding stuff they had shoplifted inside it.”
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A Suffolk Constabulary spokesperson said: “The role of our Design Out Crime officers is to offer crime prevention advice that can be taken into consideration within areas for development.”
An Ipswich Borough Council spokesperson said: “This is a live planning application, therefore comments will be considered before a determination is made.”
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