'This is a project owned by and being rolled out by Kent County Council and I can confirm that Kent Police cannot support the reduction in street lighting, as street lighting is proven to support reductions in crime,' Kent Police said in an email to turn-the-lights-on campaigner Tina Brooker, KentOnline reported.
Kent started turning off streetlights in April from 1 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. in quiet areas in an effort to reduce costs, affecting about 70,000 of the county's 120,000 lights. It has also turned off about 2,500 throughout the night.
Behdad Haratbar, head of programmed work in Kent County Council's highways unit, said that the manoeuvre could save about £1 million annually, and that it will also cut carbon emissions and light pollution.
The Kent controversy is the latest flare up in the great streetlight debate that is raging across the UK.
Many other local authorities around the UK have made similar moves, prompting an uproar from opponents who fear the safety implications. Some critics have also opposed new energy efficient LED lighting because the narrow light span fails to illuminate broad areas.
Kent Police said that it is too early to tell whether the switch-off has indeed caused more crime, but that it is monitoring the situation. It based its concerns in part on a report from professional association the College of Policing.
The KentOnline story noted that burglary and theft are particularly likely to rise.
Photo: Backlash. Kent County Council promotes its switch-off as 'safe and sensible,' but locals say it's anything but. Image from Kent.gov.uk.