A CHURCHYARD plagued by drinks, drugs and bad behaviour has left residents scared to visit their relatives’ graves.

The team at St Edburg’s in Bicester hope extra police patrols will help combat the regular groups who have been congregating among the tombs.

This has often been coupled with anti-social behaviour, alcohol and drug-taking, and in some cases church members have found human faeces within the cemetery.

Former churchwarden Matthew Clements, who now looks after church maintenance, said: “We are plagued by people who entertain themselves at different times of the day and in particular leaving litter behind.

“It can include drink cans, food wrappers, bottles as well as visible signs of drug use. Certainly to find needles left around the place is reprehensible.”

Mr Clements, who himself has been woken by the noise in the early hours, also said earlier this summer in the space of about four or five weeks he found someone had defecated in the church grounds on three occasions. He added: “There are certainly issues: people seem to have no regard for others.”

He also clarified that he was happy for people sit outside the church, and only had a problem with litter.

Scores of residents have taken to Facebook’s Bicester and Surrounding Villages Chat to voice their concerns about the growing problem.

One reader commented about seeing people injecting drugs in broad daylight.

Other added their experiences of finding broken glass and needles.

Resident Susan Mitcheson added: “I use Piggy Lane to walk to town and through the footpath at St Edburg’s Church. There are often people sat on the bench to the right of this footpath drinking and dealing drugs.

“The bench on the footpath as you come out by the new undertakers also has people drinking and dealing, and youths on bikes.

“This is all much worse in the evenings and weekends, and Sundays you often see teenagers hanging around at the back of the church.”

Police have said a rise in complaints has sparked the need for extra patrols.

Inspector Wendy Percival said: “The force has received reports about a number of street drinkers using a bench in the graveyard of St Edburg’s, therefore we have concentrated some extra patrols.”

“Our officers and staff, alongside Bicester Street Wardens, have spoken to these street drinkers and they have agreed to move away from the area.”

St Edburg’s also said it had made changes, such as cutting back bushes to limit the dark areas around the church, to help cull the problem.

To report anti-social behaviour call 101 or go to thamesvalley.police.uk