Is it safe to turn off the lights?
A recent study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health has shown that turning out or dimming street lights at night does not necessarily lead to an increase in crime or road accidents.
The study was undertaken in the wake of a claim made by the Labour Party that much of Britain was being “plunged into darkness” due to spending cuts by councils. According to Labour research, 106 of 141 councils in England were either switching off or dimming street lights at night as a result of spending cuts.
However, the findings of the latest study did not indicate an increase in road accidents or crimes that are more likely to occur at night in the dark (such as burglary, vehicle theft, robbery, violence, and sexual assault) since councils began to cut back on street lighting.
The lead investigator of the study, Phil Edwards, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, stated:
evidence for an increase in road casualties or crime
in the 25,000km of roads we looked at.
“It doesn’t mean we can just turn street lights off at midnight
all over the country because some roads are more risky
than others, but risk assessments are already
made before the lighting is changed.”
However, the results could be misleading. Of the 174 local authorities asked to provide data, only 62 responded. Researchers acknowledge that the findings may have been biased in favour of the one third of councils that replied to the survey.
Kevin McConway, professor of applied statistics at the Open University, urged caution regarding policies and future cuts:
the risks, or about how much scope there is for further safe
reductions beyond those already made. It’s not a blank
cheque for further turn-offs and dimmings.”
If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article, such as a road accident in the dark, please contact Hampson Hughes Solicitors today on 0800 888 6888 or email for expert advice.