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Switching off street lights does not hit road safety, says study

2015-08-01 00:04:02

Kirklees and Calderdale among many councils who switch off lights at night with no association between reduced street light and more crime or accidents

The big council switch-off of street lights has not hit safety.

Thats the view today of experts who released details of a new study looking at cost-cutting measures brought in by councils across Britain, including Kirklees and Calderdale.

A total of 1.36 million lights are either off or dimmed at night, compared with 148,000 in May 2010, out of a total of 5.7 million in the areas surveyed.

Motoring and pedestrian groups have raised concerns about councils switching off their lights at night to save money, with research suggesting around a third are being turned off. But research published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health found that overall, there was no evidence of an association between reduced street lighting and increased crime or traffic accidents.

The study showed that local authorities can safely reduce street lighting at night and save on energy costs as well as reduce carbon emissions.

They analysed 14 years of data from 62 local authorities across England and Wales who had implemented a range of reduced street light strategies.

To assess crime, they looked at data from 2010 to 2013 to analyse how many crimes took place in different areas and what types of street lighting were used there.

They focused on offences more likely to occur at night, including burglary, theft of or from a vehicle, robbery, violence and sexual assault. Overall, there was no evidence of an association between reduced street lighting and increased crime.

They also looked at all roads in participating authorities, examining what type of street lighting was used and the number of traffic collisions that happened at night relative to the day during 2000 to 2013. They found no evidence of a link between reduced street lighting and night-time collisions.

Both Kirklees and Calderdale councils stress they consulted with police and other organisations before changing the lights.

Kirklees has converted around 1,700 street lights to part night operation.

A spokesman said: The council has a network of 51,000 street lights and an annual energy bill of 1.9m.

Dimming, part-night switch off and LEDs are just some of the ways we manage street lighting in Kirklees to help reduce energy, support the night time economy and help keep people safe after dark.

We have 2,000 street lights on part night, which is when they switch off at midnight and come back on at 5am. We also have 10,000 dimmed street lights where lighting remains on all night, but the levels reduce overnight when fewer people are about.

There is no evidence to suggest these strategies have contributed to any significant safety issues for the community and we have saved over 250k since the programme began in 2013.

The council also has 8,000 street lights that incorporate dimming technology. These lights reduce their light output by up to 50% when traffic and pedestrian use is lower, typically midnight to 5am.