Lincolnshire Police Assistant Chief Constable Shaun West has said there is no clear evidence that the controversial street lights switch off is to blame for a rise of almost 10% in some overnight crimes.
The force released an independent report on Monday, November 27 to evaluate overnight crime levels since Lincolnshire County Council rolled out a new part-night lighting system.
Some 42,000 street lights now switch off between midnight and 6am.
The report shows there were 439 overnight crimes between January and May 2017, in comparison with 402 over the same period last year — an increase of 9.2%.
There was a slight decrease in all areas apart from criminal damage, which went up by 52.9%.
Crimes included in the report were burglaries, robberies, vehicles offences and cases of criminal damage in the areas affected by the changes.
The report did not look at crimes such as violent or anti-social behaviour.
Lincolnshire Police said the criminal damage rise does not apply to all areas of the county, with North Kesteven in particular subject to substantial increase, and notable rises also in Boston and Stamford.
The force also highlighted that Lincolnshire has seen an overall rise in crime of 4%, while the national average was an 11% rise.
For this reason, Lincolnshire Police said the results were ‘not surprising,’ concluding that it could find no link between the street lights switch-off and higher levels of crime.
‘I understand people don’t feel safe’
Shaun West, the Assistant Chief Constable of Lincolnshire Police, told The Lincolnite: “There has been a small increase in overnight crimes, but the number of crimes reported across the county has gone up by 4%.
“We are receiving more calls than ever before.
” There is no clear evidence that the slight increase in overnight crime is specifically linked to the street lights.
“Lincolnshire remains the fourth safest force and the worst funded in the country.
“There has been a negative public perception and I understand people’s feelings about safety. When I am out and about in the community I find the issue is a difference between being safe and feeling safe.
“If anyone has been a victim of those crimes, it’s a terrible thing to experience. Plus people have grown up with street lights. They are a source of light and comfort.
“It is important that people feel safe and there have been compelling comments from people in the community. That’s why it’s important for people to help inform the debate by taking part in the consultation.”
Assistant Chief Constable West said that the force understood the pressure on the council to make savings: “Police have difficulty delivering quality public service with limited funding.”
He added that the force had a duty to flag any direct crime links if they found any: “We have a social responsibility to report any evidence that suggests street lighting degrades safety, road safety or increases crime and anti-social behaviour. We’re no stranger to tough conversations with our partners. ”
Lincolnshire County Council is currently consulting residents and businesses on the impact of part-night lighting. To share your views, click or tap here.