October 1st, 2016

Call for lights to be switched back on in Catshill after ‘car crime rise’

Call for lights to be switched back on in Catshill after ‘car crime rise’ Call for lights to be switched back on in Catshill after ‘car crime rise’
Updated: 10:01 am, Oct 23, 2015

A CATSHILL resident who built his own street light to combat Worcestershire County Council turning off the lamps has claimed crime has gone up in the area since the ‘partial blackout’.

And Christopher Beech’s calls come just two days before the clocks are due to go back an hour, meaning the nights will get darker earlier.

It was last year the county council switched off two lights in every three on Worcestershire’s residential roads in a bid to save £600,000 by next year.

And that, said Mr Beech, had led to an increase in crime.

We put a Freedom of Information (FOI) request into West Mercia Police relating to crime figures in the Catshill area 12 months prior to the switch off and 12 months after it.

The results revealed there had been a 33 per cent rise in the number of thefts from motor vehicles between September 2013/14 and September 2014/15. In the year before the lights went out, there were six cases and nine in the year after.

Incidents of criminal damage to cars in Catshill also went up – by more than a quarter.

From September 2013 to 2014, there were 11 cases and between the same period in 2014/15, there were 15.

Mr Beech said residents had told him they did not feel safe when returning home late from work.

And he said, as he worked late shifts, he was dreading scraping ice off his windscreen during the cold, dark, winter nights on what was a poorly lit street.

But a spokesperson for Worcestershire County Council said there had only been two occasions when lights had been switched back on and, on both of those, West Mercia Police had advised it.

Coun John Smith OBE, the authority’s cabinet member for highways, said: “Since the lighting reductions were introduced we have regularly liaised with the police to assess the effects.

“There are currently no concerns in this area related to the lighting reduction but we continue to work closely with police.”

Insp Sarah Corteen, from Bromsgrove Safer Neighbourhood Team, said: “Whilst there has been – when you compare the two years – a small increase in number of incidents of criminal damage and theft from motor vehicle incidents, this relates to a specific spike in a car park in Marlbrook in which eight incidents occurred.

“This car park has constant security lighting.”

She added if the force had concerns, it would address the issue with measures, such as increased patrols.

But, she said, the data did not suggest an increase in vehicle crime due to the street lights being turned off.