‘More vandalism since streetlights switch-off’ claims Stevenage man

David Howell has been asking to get a streetlight turned back on in an alleyway near his home in Roc

David Howell has been asking to get a streetlight turned back on in an alleyway near his home in Rockingham Way, Stevenage - Credit: Archant

A MAN whose home has repeatedly been targeted by vandals believes that the situation has got worse since a nearby streetlight was turned off at night.

David Howell has had problems with anti-social behaviour outside his house in Rockingham Way, Stevenage, for a number of years but said he has seen an increase in crime since Hertfordshire County Council switched off streetlights across Stevenage in May last year.

The money-saving scheme means the majority of lights in the town go off between midnight and 6am each night, including one in an alleyway adjacent to Mr Howell’s home.

The 37-year-old said he has had his front door kicked in, a window shot at with an air rifle, bricks thrown over the fence into his garden, and has heard mopeds repeatedly being driven up and down the alleyway.

Mr Howell, who is a landscape gardener, told the Comet: “Since the streetlights have gone off there’s been an increase in kids causing issues. It doesn’t fill me with confidence knowing that the light is off.

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“I’ve tried to do something by calling the police but it seems there’s no chance of getting that light back on. I’ve been told it’s all related to statistics but that doesn’t mean anything to me. I’m the one bearing the brunt of what’s happening. They do say I’m no more at risk now than I was 10 years ago, but it doesn’t feel that way.”

A police spokesman said 14 offences were recorded in Rockingham Way and Wildwood Lane in 2011, with a further 11 reported in 2012 following the switch-off. This year seven crimes have been recorded – six taking place during the day or early evening.

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He added: “While we understand that some residents are concerned about streets and alleys that are unlit between midnight and 6am, there is no evidence to suggest that either crime or anti-social behaviour has increased as a result of the switch-off. Officers patrol the area regularly and will respond to all reports of crime or repeated incidents of anti-social behaviour.”

A spokesman for the county council, which is undertaking a review into the scheme in the autumn, said: “The review will take account of the various views expressed by the public since the policy was implemented, as well as data from across the whole of the county following a full year’s part-night lighting cycle.”

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