SWITCHING off Dorset’s street lights at night has not caused an increase in crime, initial monitoring has revealed.

Dorset Police and Dorset County Council pledged to monitor the situation after some residents expressed concerns the money-saving initiative would lead to an increase in crime.

But the police have studied evidence from areas of the county where lights have been switched off between 1am and 6.30am and said these fears appear unfounded.

Deputy Chief Constable James Vaughan said: “We take the concerns of our communities very seriously and have worked together with our local authority partners at Dorset County Council to closely monitor the areas where street lights have been switched off in case of any changes in crime levels.

“I’m pleased to say that we have found there has been no link to an increase in crime, which I hope will offer some reassurance to residents. “We do understand that people can feel less safe when street lights are off and we will continue to work together with partners to monitor crime levels.

“Dorset County Council has agreed to reconsider street lighting in cases where crime is seen to increase or where there are local crime and disorder issues that need a particular focus.”

The latest figures show that crime in Dorset is at a 15-year low, with total crime down 11 per cent on last year.

Police and Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill, who requested the study in response to public concern, said: “I am pleased that the analysis has shown that there is no correlation between crime levels and changes to street lighting and trust that this finding provides reassurance to the public.”

Hilary Cox, Dorset County Council’s cabinet member for environment, also welcomed the findings. She said the scheme was also supported by people who want to reduce the amount of light pollution in the sky at night across the county.