SWITCHING off streetlights during the night does not have an impact on crime levels, according to the county’s police, fire and crime commissioner.

Roger Hirst commissioned a report to find out the impact of part-night lighting on crime, anti-social behaviour and crashes following concerns raised by residents in public meetings across Essex.

According to the report, levels of crime have increased in part-night lighting areas between 1am and 5am when the lights are off, but it was in line with the national increase.

Crime levels in non-part night lighting areas have also risen.

Comparisons were made between the amount of incidents recorded between March and June 2014 between 1am and 5am, before the scheme was introduced, and reports of incidents between March and June 2017.

In Basildon, there were 157 crimes recorded in the three months in 2014, but just 148 in 2017 - a 5.7 per cent reduction.

In Castle Point, crimes had increased by 44 per cent - from 29 to 42 incidents.

In Southend, which does not have part-night lighting, there was also an increase - from 217 to 235 incidents.

Residents have described the crime boss as out of touch.

Dad-of-one Ian Longman, 32, from Basildon, suffered an attempted car theft just a month ago when would-be thieves caused more than £1,000 damage to his company car.

He said: “This happened just after 3am when the street lights were off.

“In our neighbourhood we’re disgusted with how police services are being run.

“It’s really unpleasant out there and we don’t feel safe.”

Mr Hirst said councils must consider “hard evidence” before choosing to turn the street lights back on.

He added: “The data shows no overall impact on crime or road safety of lights being turned off at night.”

Charles March, 74, a retired electrical design engineer from Canvey, has campaigned for Essex County Council to abandon its part-night lighting for five years.

He and countless others have disputed the council’s cost-saving aspirations which could be offset by introducing cheaper LED lighting.

He said: “CCTV monitoring of various locations will be rendered useless between 1am and 5am in part-night lighting areas.

“Today’s so-called non-critical areas could be tomorrow’s crime and accident hotspots.”