In April last year, most of the county’s street lights were switched off between midnight and 5.30am on weekdays, and 1am-6.30am on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

Warwickshire County Council, who had previously been spending £2.2 million on street lighting each year, wanted to save £500,000 and cut CO2 emissions.

A year on, the council has analysed the crime rate and number of accidents during the hours, and at the locations, street lights were switched off in Warwickshire.

Data for 2013/14 was compared to 2011/12 because that is the last full year the lights were on throughout the county.

Anti-social behaviour incidents fell 40.4%, from 1,308 to 779.

Domestic burglary was down 98 to 75, a fall of 23.5%.

Non-domestic burglary was down 26.9%, falling from 93 to 68.

Violent crime offences fell 20.6% from 330 to 262, and vehicle crime was down from 129 to 98, a reduction of 24%.

However, there was an increase in the numbers of slight injuries from road accidents from seven to ten, and accidents where someone was killed or seriously injured increased from three to five.

Cllr Peter Butlin, the council’s portfolio holder for transport and planning, said:  “I am pleased to see that the statistics for crime in the county bear out what we said; that turning off street lights at night will not be a recipe for higher crime rates.”

Last year residents complained about the switch-off, with many saying it would increase crime and others saying they no longer felt safe.

As well as falling crime, CO2 emissions were down by approximately 2,800 tonnes, equivalent to the emissions of 560 homes.

A map showing where the street lights have been switched off in Alcester.

A map showing where the street lights have been switched off in Alcester.

The council saved £560,000 on its electricity bill, exceeding the £500,000 target.

“Whichever way you look at the statistics, they make for very positive reading,” said Cllr Butlin. 

“Of course, it only shows a snapshot of one year.  We will continue to analyse the data in the coming years but the early signs are very encouraging.  I hope they help to allay some of the concerns that people had when the switch off was first introduced.  Naturally, we will continue to respond to requests from the police to turn lights on where they feel it is necessary.”

Not everybody in the council is as positive. Responding to claims burglaries had fallen, Nuneaton councillor June Tandy, leader of the Labour group, said: “That’s crap, I’m sorry but that’s rubbish. I don’t know what’s happening in the south of the county, but people in the north of the county are very, very concerned.”

The Labour party, who say switching off street lights is “extremely dangerous”, recently proposed they were immediately turned back on. It was rejected.

Where the street lights have been switched off in Shipston-on-Stour.

Where the street lights have been switched off in Shipston-on-Stour.

Not all areas had their street lights switched off. Roundabouts, traffic lights, pedestrian crossings, and areas covered by CCTV cameras have kept their lights on all night, as have roads near care homes, hospitals, and taxi ranks.
Public footpaths, alleyways, and cycle paths located away from roads also remain lit throughout the night.

The council has decided to invest £1 million replacing existing street lanterns with LED lanterns. These will be used on the street lights that remain on all night.

“These ultra-efficient lanterns will help to achieve greater savings and reduce CO2 emissions still further,” said Cllr Butlin.

Where the lights have been turned off in Wellesbourne.

Where the lights have been turned off in Wellesbourne.

 

Where the lights have been turned off in Henley-in-Arden.

Where the lights have been turned off in Henley-in-Arden.