March 17, 2021 10.20 am This story is over 37 months old

Women’s safety is “about much more than street lights,” says Lincolnshire council

“No impact” on night crime levels, police and council say

Lincolnshire County Council said women’s safety is “about much more than street lights” and lighting has “no impact on night-time crime levels”.

This comes as a petition with nearly 4,000 signatures so far is demanding to keep the street lights on in Lincoln all night following the Sarah Everard case and the government’s latest extra funding announcement.

The government wants to double the size of the Safer Streets fund to £45 million in order to provide neighbourhood measures such as better lighting and CCTV.

Karen Cassar, assistant director for highways at Lincolnshire County Council, said: “I can completely understand why some residents, especially women, might feel concerned for their own safety after Sarah Everard’s tragic disappearance in London.

“I know many women – from Lincolnshire and around the country – who don’t feel safe alone after dark, even where there are streetlights, and also long before midnight which is when some in Lincolnshire are turned off.

“Unfortunately, the issue of women’s safety is about much more than streetlights.”

She added: “In 2018, two years after we made the switch to part-night lighting for some of our lights, the police confirmed they’d found no impact on night-time crime levels as a result of the change.

“They said then, and have said since, that if they ever did have any concerns, they’d let us know and of course we’d work with them to see how street lighting could help.

“We also have a system in place for parish, town or district councils to apply to convert any streetlights back to all night lighting for a one-off payment, if they think it’s appropriate. To date, only four lights have been converted this way.”

A memorial for Sarah Everard has appeared in Lincoln on university campus. | Photo: The Lincolnite

Marc Jones, Police and Crime Commissioner for Lincolnshire, said: “I would absolutely support a bid to government for additional funding for street lighting, if the community felt that’s what they wanted to be done.”

However, Mr Jones said that the Safer Streets first round funding was “exceedingly restrictive”.

“It’s around areas of high levels of deprivation with a huge amount of criteria, which basically meant we only had two locations in the entire county for which we could submit bids for anything. 

“The second round, which the deadline is the March 25, is the one where we can do joint bids with local government. The first one we couldn’t.

“Again, the criteria is exceedingly tight. They’ve changed it slightly, but it still hasn’t meant that we can basically suggest areas that we choose. We’ve got to meet very strict criteria that the government set out.”

PCC Labour candidate Rosanne Kirk has promoted the petition for keeping Lincoln’s street lights on all night on her Facebook campaign page.

In 2016, the council turned off more than half of its 68,000 street lights in a bid to save £1.7 million.

Last year, it was reported that “residents are not concerned about part-night lighting,” according to the county’s highways chief after just one parish council asked for lights to be switched back on in 12 months.

Despite enquiries from Gainsborough, Louth, Metheringham, West Pinchbeck, Skegness, Deeping St James and Billingborough, just four lights in Pinchbeck were requested.