Findings show no significant impact by night time blackout - The Rugby Observer
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Findings show no significant impact by night time blackout

Rugby Editorial 9th Jul, 2014 Updated: 27th Oct, 2016

SWITCHING off street lights at night has not prompted a crime wave or led to significantly more road accidents, say council chiefs.

Since the controversial move was phased in between December 2012 and April last year, concerns have been raised the part-night lighting policy could have an impact on both community and road safety.

But a one-year review by Warwickshire County Council found no such evidence.

Analysis of incidents in areas where lights are turned off showed anti-social behaviour was down from 1,308 to 779, non-domestic burglary dropped from 93 to 68, domestic burglary fell from 98 to 75, violent crime reduced from 330 to 262 and vehicle crime offences were down from 129 to 98.

There was a slight increase in the numbers of slight injuries in road accidents from seven to 10, the same figure as in 2010/11, while deaths or serious injuries on the county’s roads was up from three to five. In 2010/11 there were seven.

CO2 emissions were also down by approximately 2,800 tonnes, equivalent to the emissions of around 560 homes. It has also saved £560,000 which was slightly more than expected.

Coun Peter Butlin, cabinet member responsible for transport, said: “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 and naturally, we will continue to respond to requests from the police to turn lights on where they feel it is necessary.”

According to the AA, the policy has contributed to the death nationally of at least five pedestrians and a cyclist since 2009.

Among them was Warwick University student Archie Wellbelove who was killed after being hit by a taxi while walking out of the Leamington on the Kenilworth Road in December 2012 just six days before part night lighting was brought in on the stretch of road.

AA president Edmund King said: “Many of these inquests clear the drivers of blame, which means these tragic deaths are accidents waiting to happen.

“At what point will the government take action or help councils to finance the switch to energy-saving street lights: 10, 15, 20 inquests later?”

Currently around 80 per cent of Warwickshire’s lights are switched off between midnight and 5.30am, Sunday to Thursday, and between 1am and 6.30am on Friday and Saturday.

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