Fights, thefts and fires - just some of the incidents police in Derbyshire have been called to deal with at WEDDINGS AND FUNERALS in the county.
Figures obtained through the Freedom of Information Act showed that officers have been called out to incidents at such events 22 times this year, including one wedding in Ilkeston where a guest was raped. The offender was later handed a conditional caution and avoided court.
Other incidents include a funeral in northern Derbyshire which ended in a brawl after one mourner decked another - and both parties ended up being hauled before the courts.
And one wedding guest in Chesterfield seemingly failed to get into the spirit of the day - and decided to set fire to fittings at the reception.
In fact, the figures show that Chesterfield is the wild-wedding capital of Derbyshire, with around a quarter of all 999 calls made at services there.
Bestselling celebrity author GP Taylor was a vicar in North Yorkshire before leaving the church a decade ago.
In his 13 years as a man of the cloth he said he witnessed some incredible sites ‐ and claimed alcohol was usually at the root of them..
“There was one incident when the service went well but once this family all left the church and moved outside, they all just started fighting,” said Mr Taylor, author of the bestselling Shadowmancer books, which have been turned into Hollywood movies.
“It got so out of control they brought a dog handler in ‐ it was absolute carnage.
“There were people running around with blood on their shirts, which had been ripped in the scuffle while people were screaming and crying.
“I said to them ‘This is a house of God and a place of peace!’ But it didn’t stop them, and it just kicked off.”
But it isn’t just days of celebration in which tempers flared.
“There was a funeral at a church in which the police had to remove a mourner as she was paralytic drunk,” added Mr Taylor.
“She was screaming shouting, falling over people and falling over the coffin.
“It was hysterically funny but it is a time of great sadness so you have to be sensitive.”
He also recalls another incident where police were called to collect a vicar from a hedge after he drunkenly fell into it prior to a christening.
“Another vicar was called to do the service while he sobered up in the back of the police van,” added the author.
Cameras, bags, cash mobiles and watches have all been reported stolen at services in Derbyshire.
And in the vast majority of incidents unearthed through the probe, booze is thought to be at the centre of them.
Yet in the majority of cases, the incident is never brought before a court.
In many, police failed to identify a suspect, with victims perhaps unwilling to take the action further once the hangover cleared.
However, the crimes Derbyshire Police deal with often pale in comparison to those committed elsewhere in the country.
In South Wales, someone working at a wedding reception exposed themselves to a guest, while in East Yorkshire a bride’s parents were arrested after hurling expletives at the groom’s family.
And while most services pass without incident, Mr Taylor added: “The trouble is these are times of incredible emotion, and any time alcohol is involved and families are brought together that can be fractious.”