Police break silence on Norwich street lights proposals
Sarah HallNorfolk police have finally broken their silence over the proposal to switch off of tens of thousands of street lights and say they do not object to the plan in principle - but would not want lights turned out in crime and anti-social behaviour hotspots.Sarah Hall
Norfolk police have finally broken their silence over the proposal to switch off of tens of thousands of street lights and say they do not object to the plan in principle - but would not want lights turned out in crime and anti-social behaviour hotspots.
Norfolk County Council wants to switch off around 27,000 street lights across Norfolk, including 7,800 in Norwich, between midnight and 5am to save cash and reduce County Hall's carbon footprint.
The proposal sparked anger in Norwich, with critics, among them city councillors and county councillors who represent the city, saying it could lead to an increase in crime.
Until now Norfolk police had not commented publicly on the plan, which the council says will save �167,000 a year, and had so far only stated they were aware of the proposals.
But, with a decision set to be made by the county council's cabinet on Monday , the force has said it would not want to see lights turned out in areas where crime or anti-social behaviour is a problem.
Superintendent Mike Fawcett, from the force's community safety department, said: 'We do not object to the county council's proposals in principle.
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'However, we would oppose any reduction in street lighting provision in areas where there is evidence of crime or anti-social behaviour.
'We have researched the issue from a police perspective and this data is currently being analysed in readiness for a report to be presented to the county council next week.'
The Norwich Area Committee has previously called for the decision to be postponed to look at other solutions, such as dimming the lights instead or testing the water with a pilot scheme, while Norwich City Council leader Steve Morphew wrote to the council urging it not to switch off lights in any streets within the inner ring road.
Simon Wright, the Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Norwich South, said: 'There is widespread feeling that this should only go ahead as part of a trial, so that the impact on crime and disorder can be properly assessed before a permanent change across the city is considered.
'There have been numerous other suggestions which I feel the county council should consider, such as leaving alternate street lights switched on, begin the switch off later than proposed and to look at the various types of lighting technologies available, which could achieve the same aims as this proposal.'
Adrian Gunson, cabinet member for planning and transportation, has stressed there are a number of exemptions which will reduce the number of lights earmarked for switch off, including where lights have been installed to help prevent accidents, where police can demonstrate there will be an increase in crime and in areas with CCTV cameras.
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