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Force monitors effect of street lights on crime

Dorset Police is monitoring the effect of switching off street lighting on crime levels – with early indications showing no link to increases in crime as a result of lights being switched off in selected areas.

In some areas of Dorset, street lights are now switched off between 1am and 6.30am (midnight to 05:30am in winter). Concerns were raised by some members of the public that this would lead to an increase in crime.

Monitoring carried out to date has shown no link between lights being switched off and changes in crime and disorder levels.

Deputy Chief Constable, James Vaughan, said: “We take the concerns of our communities very seriously and have worked together with our local authority partners in Dorset County Council to closely monitor the areas where street lights have been switched off in case of any changes in crime levels.

“I’m pleased to say that we have found there has been no link to an increase in crime, which I hope will offer some reassurance to residents.

“We do understand that people can feel less safe when street lights are off and we will continue to work together with partners to monitor crime levels.  Dorset County Council has agreed to reconsider street lighting in cases where crime is seen to increase or where there are local crime and disorder issues that need particular focus.”

Latest figures show that crime in Dorset is at a 15-year low – with total crime down 11 per cent on last year.

Deputy Chief Constable, James Vaughan continued: “Dorset remains one of the safest places to live in the UK and crime and anti-social behaviour are falling faster than the national average. Some of our rural towns have the lowest levels of crime anywhere in England and Wales.”

Police and Crime Commissioner, Martyn Underhill, said: “It is important that we listen to concerns expressed by the public, when they feel they are at risk of crime, which is why I asked the Force to produce this study.

“I am pleased that the analysis has shown that there is no correlation between crime levels and changes to street lighting and trust that this finding provides reassurance to the public.”

Hilary Cox, Dorset County Council's Cabinet member for Environment, said: "We welcome the evidence from the police about our part-night lighting programme. It is reassuring that the scheme, which does make savings, has not caused an increase in crime. The scheme has been strongly supported by those who want to reduce the amount of light pollution in our night skies."

Issued: 25 July 2013