THE co-ordinator of Basingstoke’s Street Pastor team has offered safety advice to vulnerable people walking home when the lights are switched off overnight.

As previously reported in the Gazette, Hampshire County Council introduced a new policy of turning off street lights between 1am and 4am in residential areas to save £230,000 a year and reduce CO2 output by 720 tonnes annually.

It consulted with just 0.069 per cent of the 1,837,800 people who live in the county before implementing the policy in April.

Malcolm Murray, who co-ordinates Basingstoke Street Pastor team, who help drunk and vulnerable people in the town following a night out, said he had not been informed that the street lights are switched off in residential areas.

The town centre area is lit up, and so people walking home at night might not be aware that as they reach residential areas the lighting will dramatically reduce.

Offering advice to people considering walking home between 1am and 4am, Malcolm said: “I would always be concerned about people walking alone at night especially if they have had too much to drink. I would always encourage people not to walk home alone.”

He added: “If friends start the evening together, they should stay together because that’s what sometimes happens, people lose their friends and their phone battery has gone dead and then they can be very vulnerable when they have had alcohol. Too many people walk home on their own which is a concern. If we do come across someone who’s adamant they want to walk home on their own we might give them an attack alarm.”

Malcolm said the team encourage people who insist on walking home to chose a well-lit route, not realising that this might not be possible between 1am and 4am.

He said he will be feeding back to the team about the street lights being turned off, adding: “We can tell people they won’t be able to see that well once they get out of the town.”

His top advice was to ensure mobile phones are fully charged before a night out, to stay with friends, if walking home then walk with someone else, and to carry an attack alarm if walking home, which are given out by the street pastors.

The Gazette previously reported that residents are calling for the lights to be turned back on following a spate of burglaries across the town.

Councillor Rob Humby, deputy leader and executive member for economy, transport and environment at Hampshire County Council, said: “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.”