Police are treating the destruction of headstones in a Jewish cemetery in Greater Manchester as a hate crime.
Officers found 14 headstones knocked over and smashed at the Blackley Jewish Cemetery on Rochdale Road in Charlestown on Wednesday afternoon.
They are now appealing for witnesses or for anyone who has any information to get in contact.
Chief Superintendent Wasim Chaudhry from GMP’s North Manchester Division said: “This is a sickening act of criminal damage which we are taking very seriously.
“I believe this was a deliberate and targeted attack and there is no place for such abhorrent behaviour in our communities.
“All decent members of the public recognise that a cemetery is supposed to be a resting place for people who have passed away; a place of sanctity and dignity where families can come and pay their respects.
Smashed gravestones at the Jewish cemetery in Charlestown, Manchester. Photograph: Josh Halliday for the Guardian
“So to have those graves desecrated in such a disgusting and disrespectful way will no doubt cause immeasurable anguish to the families and loved ones affected.
“I cannot begin to get into the mind of someone who would commit such an atrocity.
“I know this will cause a lot of anxiety and distress in the local community and we as police officers and my colleagues at Manchester City Council share that distress.
“We will do everything we can to find out who is responsible and bring the full force of the law down on them.
“This has been recorded as a hate crime because of the clear racial motivation and, should we find those who committed this cowardly act, which will allow the courts to impose even harsher punishments.”
Chief Supt Chaudhry said extra patrols were being put into the area to act as a deterrent and reassure the community.
The same cemetery was previously targeted by vandals in 2014, when more than 40 gravestones were vandalised and sprayed with offensive graffiti.
:: Anyone with information should call police on 0161 856 3521, 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111