POLICE have called for street lights to be switched on in part of Essex hit by burglaries, triggering a barrage of criticism from campaigners who demand the same.

Essex Police asked for the lights back on in four roads in Pilgrims Hatch, near Brentwood, to be left on for a temporary period because of an upswing in burglaries in the area.

But officers refuse to ask for any lights to be turned back on elsewhere in the county, and still don’t accept that having the lights off makes crime worse.

Residents have questioned why one area gets special treatment.

Michael Love, 30, of Keats Way, Wickford, said: “If they’re doing it elsewhere, why not do it everywhere? They should not have one thing for some and not for others.”

George Phillips, 48, of The Gore, Basildon, agreed. He said: “The lights should be switched back on. I had tools stolen from my front shed, a neighbour has also been hit, crime in this area is really high.”

Nigel Smith, Basildon Council’s Labour leader, said: “The county council should change its mind about this.”

An Essex Police spokesman said there were no plans to ask for the lights to be switched on in any other part of the county.

He added: “There has been an increase in the number of burglaries in the Pilgrims Hatch area over the past fewweeks.

“As a preventative measure, we have asked for the street lights in that area to be kept on.

“This is just one tactic we are using to manage this problem in this area.

“The general experience in part of Essex has been that a reduction in street lighting has not led to any noticeable increase in crime.

“We will monitor with interest the consequences of any changes in the patterns of street lighting for any impacts on crime.”