Dangers in the darkness as Harpenden man mugged by unseen assailants

AN ANGRY mother has called on Herts County Council to turn the streetlights back on after her son was brutally attacked as he walked home in Harpenden early Saturday morning.

She said her son, in his 30s, was unable to see the attackers because the streetlights were switched off. He was knocked to the ground, attacked and then left unconscious.

His mother, who wishes to remain anonymous, said: “The streets are pitch black once the lights go off and just a few weeks ago, I had told him I was worried about his safety as he walked home after a night out. I never thought my worries would come true.

“He’s a fit young man and these thugs just set upon him, he didn’t even see where they came from, it was that dark.

“He’s playing it down but we went back to the scene of the crime on Saturday morning and there was blood all over the pavement. They did some real damage to him: they broke his nose and smashed some of his teeth. It was very distressing to find my son in that way.”

The incident happened around 1am on Saturday morning as the victim was on his way home after a night out. He was walking down Grove Road when the attackers struck. Passers-by found him and helped him home before the police were called, but he still doesn’t know how long he was unconscious for. His wallet wasn’t taken but his phone, worth more than �400, was.

His mother said the attack underlined how frightening the streets now were after the county-wide part-night lighting came into effect in the district.

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She added: “It is so dark once they go off and you can’t see if people are loitering or watching you.”

She is now determined to get the council to switch the lights back on, fearing crimes like this will rise if they don’t.

Her voice will be added to well over 3,000 others who have now signed a petition on Herts County Council’s website, calling for the council to turn street lights back on.

Across Herts, 70 per cent of streetlights are being converted to part-night lighting, with most lights on from dusk until midnight and, in winter, during the morning rush hour. They are switched off between midnight and 6am.

A spokesperson for Herts county council said: “We cannot comment on the investigation in hand. We are however working closely with the police to ensure the safety of all Hertfordshire residents. In any area, the change to part-night street lighting has only been made after discussions with the police, district community safety officers and local county councillors.”

Herts Police said the investigation was still in its early stages and they couldn’t make a judgement as to whether the part-night lighting was a factor in the robbery.

He added: “Robberies like this do occur during daylight hours as well as at night in locations where there is street lighting. So far, in parts of the country where some street lights have been switched off at midnight, there has not been any perceptible change in levels or types of crime.

“We don’t want people to worry unnecessarily that not having street lights means crime will increase.”

To sign the petition on the council’s website, visit https://consult.hertsdirect.org/petitions/