The police in Kent have told the City Council that they cannot support the council’s part-night lighting scheme.
The police told the council that they did not support this plan as street lighting does reduce crime especially burglary and theft.
The part-night lighting scheme was put forward by the council to reduce energy costs, carbon emissions and light pollution by turning off around 70,000 light between midnight and 5:30am.
The council reported that 75% of respondents supported the new scheme. However, only 546 residents responded out of a total of 1.5 million.
Attempting to get the council to change back, Tina Brooker, has received more than 1,500 signatures for her Right to Light petition.
An email addressed Ms Brooker from Kent police said: “This is a project owned by and being rolled out by Kent County Council and I can confirm that Kent Police cannot support the reduction in street lighting, as street lighting is proven to support reductions in crime (as indicated in a report published by the College of Policing) Kent County Council are aware that we cannot support their initiative.”
Another campaigner, Daryl Lucas, said: “[The council] may have said they consulted with Kent Police, however it appears they didn’t like what the result was and chose to ignore it.”
A College of Policing report said: “[Street lighting can] reduce crime, improve the public’s feelings of security, requires no intrusive surveillance and does not impinge on aspects of civil liberties. Senior police officers should therefore feel confident in lobbying for improved lighting as a necessary component of any crime reduction initiative.”
Road Safety organisations RoSPA and AA have supported Ms Brooker’s campaign as darkness on roads can lead to injury and death.
Assistant Chief Constable, Rob Price, said: “Kent Police cannot support the reduction of street lighting as it is proven to support reduction in crime. However, Kent Police recognises the reasons that this project is under way. We also recognise the careful and considered approach that Kent City Council has taken with this project and we are grateful that Kent City Council for thoroughly consulting with Kent Police.”
Head of programmed work for Kent City Council’s Highway unit, Behdad Haratbar, said: “We carried out a consultation, with advertising and publicity in local newspaper and on radio, and via social media, before implementing the switch-off of streetlights and 75% of respondents backed our move to introduce part-night lighting – switching off street lights when they are least needed – between midnight and 5:30am. We continue to work closely with Kent police to monitor road accidents and crime. We will review the lighting requirements if any increase can be attributed to the absence of street lighting. Around 60% of all local authorities are now engaged in some sort of move to reduce lighting and our approach has been praised by The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents and the Institute of Advanced Motorists. The county council is not switching off any street lights in town centre, areas with CCTV, anti-social behaviour areas, as busy road junctions, roundabouts or sites with road safety issues. We worked closely with Senior Officers from Kent Police when developing the street lighting policy our proposals were also discussed with the Kent Association of Local Councils and all 12 Joint Transportation Boards, where local councillors review transport issues. We have to find an additional £273 million of savings over the next three years. Switching off street lights when they are least needed will deliver an annual saving of around £1 million. This will be used to support frontline services. It will also cut carbon emissions by 5,000 tonnes annually and reduce light pollution. These lights are plotted on the map available at www.kent.gov.uk/streetlights.”