The big street light switch off is hailed a success but people are still scared of the dark

A report has revealed that 74 per cent of Dacorum’s street lights have now been converted to the controversial part-night lighting scheme.

But householders are still scared that crooks will strike under the cover of darkness and fear of crime is a concern that County Hall bosses have so far been unable to solve.

The Herts-wide project, which sees lights switched off between midnight and 6am, is saving Herts County Council £1.38 million each year - £200,000 more than expected. A further £91,000 in carbon tax costs will be avoided from April 2014.

In a review report presented to the council’s overview and scrutiny committee this week it said the project had ‘met or exceeded the objectives of the original economic, environmental and safety business cases’ and the scheme has already been hailed a success by the Conservative-controlled council.

But the report did say that fear of crime when streets are plunged into darkness is still a problem. “The fear of crime is a recurring theme that is raised locally and within the media,” it said.

“While there are options to increase the exceptions to part-night lighting or increase the hours of lighting they will have an adverse impact on the economic and environmental business case, but there is no evidence that they will eradicate the fear of crime.”

Police figures show that overnight crime – and crime in general – continues to fall in the county.

The report said: “The evidence does not appear to support the view that part-night lighting has caused an increase in criminality within the county.”

During the meeting on Tuesday, the committee recommended that the scheme should continue to be monitored and that changes should be made including introducing greater flexibility for councillors to make changes to lighting and operational hours – something Liberal Democrats had been calling for – and allowing locality budgets, money given to councillors to spend on worthwhile causes, to be used to fund the return of some full lighting.