Warwickshire street light switch-off ‘a success’

Crime has fallen in the areas the lights have been switched off
Crime has fallen in the areas the lights have been switched off

Turning off street lights overnight in some parts of the county has been hailed a success - despite slightly more people being killed or hurt in road accidents.

Warwickshire County Council’s communities overview and scrutiny committee has carried out its first review of part-night street lighting. Various statistics have been analysed including rates of anti-social behaviour, vehicle crime, domestic burglary, violent crime and ‘burglary other. The rates of crimes during the hours, and at the locations, that part-night lighting has been in operation have been compared with the figures for 2011/12 - the last full year before the lights were switched off. Also analysed were the rates of car accidents in the areas where street lights have been switched off.

The reduction in emissions of carbon dioxide and the savings in energy were also scrutinised.

The findings were as follows:

* Countywide, the level of anti-social behaviour incidents had fallen from 1,308 to 779, a reduction of 29.6 per cent

* Non-domestic burglary was down from 93 to 68, a fall of 26.9 per cent

* Domestic burglary was down 24 per cent from 98 to 75

* Violent crime offences fell 20.6 per cent from 330 to 262

* Vehicle crime offences were down from 129 to 98, a reduction of 24 per cent

* The number of slight injuries in road accidents rose from seven to ten

* The number of people killed or seriously injured in road accidents rose from three to five

* Carbon dioxide emissions were down by approximately 2,800 tonnes, which the council says is equivalent to the emissions of around 560 homes.

The target saving of £500,000 was exceeded with a net electricity cost saving of £560,000 achieved.

Cllr Peter Butlin, the county councillor responsible for transport, said: “I am pleased to see that the statistics for crime in the county bear out what we said – that turning off street lights at night will not be a recipe for higher crime rates.

“Whichever way you look at the statistics, they make for very positive reading. Of course, it only shows a snapshot of one year. We will continue to analyse the data in the coming years but the early signs are very encouraging.

“I hope they help to allay some of the concerns that people had when the switch off was first introduced. Naturally, we will continue to respond to requests from the police to turn lights on where they feel it is necessary.”

Cllr Butlin also welcomed the decision to invest some money in replacing existing street lanterns with LED lanterns. In 2014/15, an allocation of £1,000,000, agreed at the council’s budget setting meeting in February, will be used to start to install LED street lanterns where lights are on all night.

Cllr Butlin added: “These ultra-efficient lanterns will help to achieve greater savings and reduce CO2 emissions still further. We should look at how they can play a greater part in how the county can reduce the energy it uses on street lighting and this introduction is a good start.”