‘It’s just getting ridiculous’ – Baldock mum responds to burglaries and break-ins with petition to have street lighting restored after midnight

A Baldock mum has said a lack of street lighting after midnight may have caused a spate of crime acr

A Baldock mum has said a lack of street lighting after midnight may have caused a spate of crime across the town in recent weeks and has launched a petition to have the lights restored. - Credit: Archant

A Baldock mum has said a lack of street lighting after midnight may have caused a spate of crime across the town in recent weeks – and has launched a petition to have the lights restored.

Gemma Chapman, 27, started the petition a week ago, following a series of burglaries and van break-ins in Baldock, in the hope that having the streets lit up all night might deter would-be thieves.

North Herts chief inspector Julie Wheatley has moved to reassure the petitioners that having the lights switched off did not cause a crime increase – but did indicate that some could be switched back on if evidence showed it was necessary.

Gemma told the Comet: “I’m quite sick of seeing it – all these people having stuff stolen, vans being broken into. If the street lights were on it might be a bit of a deterrent.

“It’s just getting ridiculous really, and it seems to be a bit concentrated in Baldock as well. It’s a bit nervy – I don’t want anyone breaking into my house and hurting my family.

“It’s also a problem for people who work late or nights, then walk home in the dark – you literally cannot see your own feet. Someone is going to seriously hurt themselves soon.”

The petition, addressed to North East Herts MP Sir Oliver Heald, now has just short of 200 signatories.

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Ch Insp Wheatley said in response: “I understand why the switching off of street lights has caused some to question their safety and security, but there is simply no evidence of this fear being realised.

“Many types of crime do not relate in any way to street lighting, and in fact some crimes are more prevalent in daytime hours – for example household burglary.

“We work with Herts County Council to monitor crime and incident rates and, in some cases, street lighting can be switched back on in specific locations should evidence show this is necessary to prevent crime or promote security.”

There have been at least five burglaries and five van break-ins in Baldock since Christmas.

Gemma’s supporters include Gary White, from Baldock, who signed with the comment that having the lights off after midnight was in his view a risk to public safety.

Others have reacted with scepticism, citing unchanged crime figures since the change in lighting arrangements, and calling for more vigilance and police patrols in Baldock.

Street lights come under the remit of the county council, and cabinet member for highways Terry Douris said the situation had been continuously monitored.

“Before lights were converted, we worked closely with the police and local county councillors to ensure the safety of our residents,” he said.

“The recorded history of crime and road traffic accidents along individual routes was also considered before any changes were implemented.

“Continuous monitoring since lights were converted has shown that part-night lighting has had no detrimental effect on crime or road traffic accidents and we will continue to monitor the situation.

“The changes to our street lighting policy is saving around £1 million a year, as well as reducing carbon emissions and light pollution.”

You can see Gemma’s petition at http://bit.ly/2ij7iPL. If you have concerns about street lighting, you can contact your county councillor at hertsdirect.org/your-council.