Grieving families were left in tears after sentimental items on their loved ones’ graves were “vandalised” and “thrown in a heap” by cemetery ground maintenance staff.

New turf was laid on the graves at Wycombe Cemetery in Hampden Road two weeks ago – but families were not made aware and flowers, ornaments and other sentimental items were not moved beforehand.

Instead, loved ones visiting their relatives’ final resting place later found memorial items had been “thrown” across the ground – with some even “lost or broken”.

Pamela Acheampong, from High Wycombe, told the Bucks Free Press the graves were left in a “disgusting” state.

Her mother, who passed away in March, is buried in the cemetery. Mrs Acheampong’s nephew was left “distraught” after turning up to pay his respects and discovered the distressing scene.

Mrs Acheampong said: “They had gone through the whole row of graves and chucked flowers like they were nothing. It was left in an awful state.

“The graves were basically vandalised. It is totally disgusting. They moved all the wooden cross and put them back at the wrong end of the graves.

“I was so angry. My mum only passed away in March and you just don’t need that so soon after someone dies. You shouldn’t have to deal with this at all.

"There is an elderly man who visits his wife's grave everyday and he was greeted by that sight. It is just not on."

When upset family members spoke to maintenance staff, they were reportedly spoken to "rudely", with "no empathy, compassion or respect".

Mrs Acheampong said she complained to a manager who was at the cemetery who apologised and he would look into the matter and call her back but she has yet to hear from him weeks later.

Wycombe District Council has apologised for any distress caused during the work.

A spokesman for Wycombe District Council said: “We do apologise for any distress the routine operation of levelling and turfing of the graves has caused to the families concerned.

“Our contractors are required to level and turf graves after an initial period of natural settlement. As part of this work they should sensitively remove items from the grave to enable the turfing to take place, and in addition we then need to keep the newly laid turf clear in order for it to establish.

“The contractors routinely clear items in line with the cemetery regulations for the lawn sections which require most of the grave space to be kept clear of all obstructions. In this instance the items were placed on an adjacent bank.

“We have asked that in future graves and memorials are photographed prior to and after turfing so we have a record of the work and any items moved.”