Crime rise: Is lights switch-off to blame?

Latest news from the Harborough Mail
Latest news from the Harborough Mail

A leading politician is questioning whether a large rise in burglaries in the district is due to the policy of switching off street lights.

Figures released this week show break-ins at houses and business premises in the district have risen by 64 per cent year-on-year.

There were 184 burglaries since last April, 72 more than the same period in the previous 12 months.

A recent spate of break-ins targeting the southern estate in Harborough before Christmas has added to the figures.

Cllr Phil Knowles, the leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Harborough District Council, is now calling on Leicestershire County Council to rethink its policy of switching off street lights.

The process of switching off lights during the small hours began in January 2012.

It was implemented across 2,754 lights in the district between midnight and 5.30am including 1,518 in Harborough and the Bowdens.

The measure saves County Hall £23,000 a year.

Cllr Knowles said: “Are the lights chosen to be switched off contributing to any increase in crime or uplift in community concern about the potential for crime? Could the switching off of an alternative nearby street light offer better light coverage in an area?

“It is certainly worth the county reviewing the matter and asking for public comment.

“I have been told by quite a number of residents that they would welcome the matter being revisited.”

Police say a number of recent break-ins have been down to people not locking their doors at night and thieves simply walking in to steal.

Peter Osborne, Leicestershire County Council cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “We are not aware from police that there is a concern about an increase in crime in Harborough linked with any changes to street lighting.

“We undertake a review every year and if any issues are raised we will look into them and take any action as necessary.”