A CEMETERY in Whitefield has been vandalised in what is believed to have been an anti-Semitic attack.

The thugs, who have been described by police as "scumbags", broke into the cemetery in Old Hall Lane sometime between Friday and the early yesterday morning.

Three separate chapels were targeted in the attack, all sustaining damage including the desecration of the headstone belonging to a prominent member of Greater Manchester's Jewish community.

Two windows and a number of sinks were also smashed, books were torn and damaged and CCTV and pipes were stolen from one of the chapels. 

A full police investigation has now been launched and officers say they are treating the incident as a hate crime.

Superintendent Paul Walker, of GMP’s Bury division, said: “We have launched an investigation and whilst the CCTV has been destroyed by the offenders - clearly in an attempt to cover their tracks - I can assure you that we have a team of dedicated officers working to piece together exactly what happened in an attempt to find those responsible.

“I understand that this incident will have caused distress to many members of our community and we are working alongside our partners including Community Security Trust to ensure that those affected are fully supported.

“We are treating this incident as a hate crime and I want to send a clear message that incidents of this nature will never be tolerated in our communities. I would encourage anyone with any information to get in touch as soon as possible.”

Police officers also sent a strongly-worded Tweet revealing the damage done and labelling the perpetrators "scumbags" last night.

The pictures show the smashed grave, a sink ripped from a wall and books scattered on the floor.

The inspector who attended the scene posted of Twitter: "I hope the scumbags who desecrated a graveyard in Whitefield are proud! You are a complete disgrace to humanity!

"This is not what the community of Whitefield are about or accept.

"Anyone with info particularly about anyone trying to offload copper piping should contact us . Insp B."

A spokesman for the Muslim Jewish Forum of Greater Manchester said: "The Muslim Jewish Forum of Greater Manchester was shocked by the vandalism at Philips Park Jewish Cemetery in Whitefield.

"People who commit such despicable acts show no respect  for the dead and are consumed by hatred of their fellow citizens.

"Attacking a cemetery is sickening. We hope that the perpetrators are found as soon as possible and dealt with severely."

Anyone with any information is asked to call police on 0161 856 8172 quoting incident number 2282 of 09/02/2019, or the independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.