Actually crime is down

PUBLISHED: 12:31 10 July 2008 | UPDATED: 14:07 10 May 2010

I feel compelled to write in response to the exchange of letters that have appeared in the Reporter over the last few weeks regarding the streetlights switch-off. I am of course extremely sorry to hear of the incident involving a young couple s home being

I feel compelled to write in response to the exchange of letters that have appeared in the Reporter over the last few weeks regarding the streetlights switch-off.

I am of course extremely sorry to hear of the incident involving a young couple's home being burgled, as any reasonable person would be, but I think it is wrong to assume that this crime would not have been committed had the streetlights been left on.

It is imperative to distinguish between actual crime and fear of crime. While fear of crime may have increased since the streetlights were switched off last year, you may be surprised to hear that actual crime has dropped considerably. Night-time crime has actually almost halved, year-on-year, from April 2007 to May 2008.

The major difference is that people now have something they can easily blame these crimes on - people assume that a burglary would not have happened if the street outside had been illuminated, when the truth is that a determined burglar will go about his (or her) business, streetlights or no streetlights.

It is unhealthy to suppose that Saffron Walden is inhabited by menacing criminals, rubbing their hands with glee at the opportunities presented by our sleeping, unlit town. These people do exist - but they exist whether our streets are lit or not.

I personally believe that a bit of darkness at night - as unnatural as it sounds - will do us all good. It is something people should attempt to get used to. As the official figures from Essex Police show (134 recorded night-time crimes from April '06 to May '07; 70 from April '07 to May '08), far from crime increasing post switch-off, it has drastically reduced.

I appreciate people have strong views on this subject but let's not descend into hysteria and scaremongering. Crime is down, and that's a fact.

Margaret Strafford, High Street, Saffron Walden

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