‘Frightened’ and ‘intimidated’ residents of Boston have been taking part in free self-defence classes after lights in the town were switched off.
‘Frightened’ and ‘intimidated’ residents of Boston have been taking part in a free self-defence class after lights in the town were switched off.
Woad Farm area residents were offered six weeks of free classes by Sonny Boyall of Boston Kuk Sool Won after Lincolnshire County Council went ahead with part-night lighting in the area.
Lorraine Cooper, who has organised the residents on the Woad Farm Alerts group, contacted Sonny and arranged the lessons with him.
She said: “The lights being off made people very nervous, and the crime rate around here is not so good.”
She said she had been encouraging people to report any crimes or suspicious behaviour and to take crime or incident numbers.
They included one elderly resident where youngsters were ‘banging on her door and running off’.
“It was frightening her,” said Lorraine.
“When they’re 15/16-year-olds that look like adults, that’s frightening and intimidating.”
The first class, which took place last week, had residents already feeling more confident, said Lorraine.
“We had a mixture of people – all members of Woad Farm Alerts.
“It is a brilliant way to make friends feel safer and have cohesion in our community.”
Following the first two events Sonny has now opened up the next four free classes, which will take place Wednesdays, 7.30-8.30pm, to anyone who wants to try out self-defence and learn some basic moves which may keep them safer.
Mr Boyall said the club had seen a rise in the number of adult members since the lights had gone out.
“I think it’s people trying to feel safe when they’re out and about,” he said.
“People want to be sure that if something happens they can handle themselves a little better.”
He praised the group and said they ‘seemed to enjoy it’ but advised that they would need to practice for 30-45 minutes every week.
Boston Community Insp Andy Morrice said he was supportive of any measures which ‘gave people the reassurance they need’ adding: “It’s self-defence so its not about planning to fight, but to defend yourself.”
“To me, if it makes people feel safer and makes people feel better I’m fully supportive of it.”
However, he said there had been no rise in recorded crime due to the street lights being switched off, with Boston down 14 per cent.
He added 80 per cent of crime took place in the day.
He did say however, there had been a rise in sneak-in burglaries.
Lincolnshire County Council has converted 17,000 lights to LED, turned 38,000 into part-nighting and turned 3,000 lights off.
It is believed annual savings of £1.7 million could be made county-wide.
The council has previously said ‘the evidence suggests that part-night lighting is safe and leaves the majority of road users unaffected’.
It said other authorities, had seen ‘significant decreases in crime as a result of similar changes’.
The council has said it is not planning to change the policy currently but it is carrying out a review.