CALLS have been made to turn the street lights back on at night in Basingstoke following a spate of burglaries across the town.

As reported by The Gazette, a number of homes in Hatch Warren and Chineham were targeted by burglars overnight on August 13, sparking fears from the public that thieves are taking advantage of the street lights being out between 1am and 4am.

The Gazette also reported last month how an 87-year-old great-grandmother from Winklebury woke to find all her jewellery had been taken after burglars smashed their way into her home during the night whilst she was asleep on July 21.

The thieves used a bird bath to break her patio doors at 2am, which was heard by one of her neighbours, but they weren’t able to see anything because it was pitch black with the street lights off.

Numerous people have commented on our Facebook page attributing the crimes to the lights being turned off – a measure introduced by Hampshire County Council in April to save costs and reduce carbon emissions, following a public consultation which less than one per cent of residents responded to.

Paul Pooser Graham said: “All because they want to save money. It’s causing more problems.”

Kaeli Phillimore added: “There have been burglaries or attempted burglaries all over Basingstoke over the last couple of months (four or five in Popley just last week). If they didn’t switch the street lights off making it easier for these idiots to be invisible it wouldn’t happen.”

Francesca Collingwood agreed, saying: “The street lights need to be back on and more police patrolling our streets especially at night as there is a lot of nasty things happening in Basingstoke since those lights have been turned off and police cuts.”

Richard Wayne Bridgeman called for a campaign to turn the lights back on, and said: “Lights go out far easier for burglary, we need to be lit up again. Crime has risen since they turned the lights off.”

However, Basingstoke chief inspector Stuart Ratcliffe said they had not seen a rise in crime linked to the street lights being switched off, and said this is being “consistently monitored”.

He added: “It is something our neighbourhood officers regularly monitor and should changes need to be made, we can work with Hampshire County Council to look at how these can be effectively introduced, whether this is turning the lights back on or varying the times they are switched on and off.”

Councillor Rob Humby, deputy leader and executive member for economy, transport and environment at Hampshire County Council, said: “Earlier this year, the county council introduced a policy of switching off street lights between 1am and 4am in residential areas of Hampshire. This following a public consultation in 2018 during which over two thirds of the residents and 141 organisations who responded supported a three to four-hour period during which street lights would be turned off in residential areas, resulting in carbon emission reductions and financial savings needed due to growing demands across council services, particularly in social care.

“As well as the public consultation, academic research and evidence from other authorities was gathered to inform the decision to make the change and this showed there was no relationship between street lighting times and changes in crime patterns. We work closely with the police and actively review any arrangements in areas where they express concern.”

The council say the new measure will save £230,000 a year and reduce CO2 output from street lights by 720 tonnes annually.

A total of 5,444 people responded to the council’s 2018 consultation, which represents 0.069 per cent of the 1,837,800 people who live in the county.