POLICE have issued a message of reassurance as county bosses switch off street lights across Dacorum to save cash.
The operation to plunge parts of the borough into darkness between midnight and 6am started last week.
But the county’s Chief Constable Andy Bliss said: “We recognise Herts County Council’s need to make cost savings
“It is perfectly understandable that its street light programme will cause people to question their safety and security, but we have seen no evidence that reduced street lighting results in crime increases.
“Police officers will be working 366 days and nights this year and, as part of my programme to get more officers out on foot and bike patrol, they will be actively patrolling both lit and unlit areas across the county, with their standard equipment, which includes a torch, every night in order to keep crime levels as low as possible.”
However, a spokesman for local milk deliverers Dairy Crest says some milkmen are concerned about the big switch off.
Arthur Reeves said: “Milkmen want to be safe and on occasions switching street lights off makes them feel less safe.
“In small dark streets they feel uncomfortable in pitch blackness.”
Police say since the start of the council’s programme of switching off lights in other parts of the county there has been ‘no perceptible increase in incidents or any change in crime patterns that might relate to street lights being switched off’.
Police also point out that many rural have never had street lighting and crime is no more prevalent in those areas.
Councillor Stuart Pile, who oversees highways at County Hall, said: “People say: I won’t be able to go out, I might fall over, the street will be dark when I’m driving – all the things people say will happen don’t happen.”
He said they will only be targeting B roads in Dacorum at this stage and will begin on A roads in the autumn. The whole project will be reviewed in mid 2013.
Across the county around 80 per cent of street lights are being converted to part-night lighting but the scheme is continually reviewed and around 80 lights have already been switched back on.