Bright idea helps cut down crime on Guildhall Walk

TROUBLE Guildhall Walk, Portsmouth
TROUBLE Guildhall Walk, Portsmouth
Jackson Brett

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CRIME on Guildhall Walk has fallen by almost a third thanks in part to new street lighting which has made the area brighter.

Between October 2010 and March 2011, the total number of crimes committed between 9pm and 5am on the street was 237, compared to 338 in the same period last year.

And Portsmouth City Council believes improved street lighting, which it installed immediately before the recorded drop in incidents, has contributed to the improvement.

The lighting was part of a raft of measures designed to help cut down crime in the area, which is packed with pubs and bars.

The council’s leader for community safety, Cllr Lynne Stagg, said: ‘It’s good crime levels have reduced, and lighting has played a part.

‘It helps police see what’s happening more often, so they can prevent people who may be joking around from getting into fights.’

The council reviewed lighting on Guildhall Walk, and surrounding streets White Swan Road, Alex Rose Lane and Dorothy Diamond Street, early last year.

As The News reported at the time, it ran a trial of floodlights, which were turned on as people left bars and nightclubs in the hope they would disperse more quickly.

The trial was inconclusive, but the second part of the plan, to spend £14,165 doubling the number of streetlights on the roads, and changing them from orange to white, had a greater effect.

Violent crime figures dropped from 206 between October 2009 and March 2010, to 133 between October 2010 and March 2011.

In the same period, criminal damage dropped from 24 to 18 incidents, theft from 73 to 53 and drug offences were down from 17 to 12.

Alan Knobel, the Safer Portsmouth Partnership’s alcohol strategy co-ordinator, said: ‘The lights have helped lower the crime rates, and everything which helps is a good thing.

‘It was done in co-ordination with other schemes, and there’s still more to be done.’

In the last year, other schemes to reduce crime levels on Guildhall Walk have included introducing street pastors, bars paying for taxi marshals, increased policing and a tougher police stance on licensing.

Cllr Stagg said: ‘They’ve all helped, and I’d be interested to see what the effect of the recession has been, too.

‘Maybe there are fewer people down there now, as people have less money.

‘But the police, and CCTV monitors do excellent work, and most people who go out there may be drunk, but they’re happy.

‘The lighting helps police spot the ones who are not.’