Drivers and pedestrians could be at increased risk of road accidents as town halls cut back on street lighting, it has been suggested.
More than half of councils are planning on reducing the number of lights or dimming them in a bid to save money after the coalition Government slashed funding, according to a survey.
But there are fears that darkened streets could encourage criminals and increase the risk of road accidents.
Of 75 town halls in England in Wales polled by the BBC’s Newsnight, 32 – nearly 43% – said they were already committed to having fewer street lights.
Nine (12%) said they were dimming lights, and a further 14 said such measures were being considered.
The remaining 20 insisted they would not be changing lighting levels in their area.
Essex County Council is said to have turned off 18,000 of its 220,000 street lights, saving an estimated £1.25million a year.
Authorities in Buckinghamshire, Leicestershire, and Somerset are also reportedly implementing curbs.
The reductions come after the Government announced central funding for councils was being slashed by more than a quarter over the next four years.
A Police Federation spokesman told the Daily Mail: “The cuts could well mean that back streets and outer areas become a more fertile area for criminals to become more active in.
“The lighter an area is, the safer it is for public safety, pedestrians and indeed, motorists.”
Andrew Howard, head of road safety at the AA, added: “There is a fear that it could lead to more crashes as motorists fail to detect an unlit boulder or a drunk pedestrian dressed in dark clothes.
“Lighting can improve safety for drivers, riders, and pedestrians as well as deterring street crime.”