Does streetlighting cut crime?

Lights, dogs or wheelie bins? Which is the best deterrent against crime? Chief Inspector Gordon Routledge examines the evidence. 

Whether lighting cuts crime seems like one of those questions that’s just too obvious to ask. And it’s a stance that you’d expect the lighting industry to push because it’s good for business.

I’ve had my own views on this subject for quite some time: I make sure the back of my house is as dark as possible. Any would-be burglar, peeping tom or unwelcome relative will, in the dark, have to find out how to open the gate, navigate some (often icy) steps, plot a route past an ever-growing fleet of wheelie bins and recycling bags and avoid a selection of children’s shoes.

Indiana Jones would struggle to overcome these cunning booby traps without causing a rumpus and triggering the second line of defence: the dog. The dog has grown accustomed to the latest in lighting technology over the years, so a well-placed security light switching on will do nothing to interrupt his slumber. The noise of Jimmy Scumbag and his druggy mate knocking over a wheelie bin, however, will.

But what if your home is bathed in an orange glow courtesy of the local council, and you have nothing more intimidating than a goldfish to guard it? Well it’s time to get a dog, or ask the council to turn those lights off, because a growing body of evidence suggests that lights lead to no change in crime levels and (gasp) may actually increase them.

A survey by the UK government titled Decision-making by house burglars: offenders’ perspectives mentions many factors burglars consider as a deterrent, but doesn’t mention lighting once. However, this may be an example of what social scientists call selection bias, since it’s a survey of burglars who got caught – perhaps the ones who recognise the value of a good lighting scheme are the ones who get away.

What’s even more telling is that the Association of British Insurers does not recommend outdoor lighting as a crime deterrent. Indeed, insurance companies do not offer a reduction in your premiums if you have security floodlights, because there is little evidence to suggest that lighting reduces crime.

Another UK government report from 1991, The influence of streetlighting on crime and the fear of crime, states: ‘The principal conclusion is that no evidence could be found to support the hypothesis that improved streetlighting reduces reported crime. The main database for the study consisted of over 100,000 reported crimes… The area studied, an inner London borough, has a high crime rate in a national context and thus represented a fair test for environmental crime-prevention measures.’ In short, if streetlighting reduces crime, this study should have detected it.

In Essex, a trial to turn off suburban streetlights between midnight and 5.30am proved successful in reducing crime. Police said: ‘A year-on-year comparison for April 2006 to May 2007 (when streetlights were left on all night) and April 2007 to May 2008 (when streetlights were turned off at midnight) has shown that night-time crime has almost halved in Saffron Walden and reduced by over a third in Dunmow.’

Sadly even streetlights themselves can become victims of crime. In May 2010 thieves stole more than 60 heritage street lanterns and the columns that supported them. It’s not known if the lights were stolen during the day or night, and if the crime rate in the area decreased after the area was plunged into darkness.

So does lighting reduce crime? I’m struggling to find the evidence (although I’m sure the keyboards of ILP members and outdoor lighting manufacturers across the land are now red hot). If you can find some evidence, then please get in touch. Until then, remember that violent crime is actually very rare, so don’t have nightmares.

Join in the debate on streetlighting and crime at LuxLive in the Lux Arena at 3.10 pm on Thursday 19 November.

Panel Discussion: Does lighting cut crime?

Manufacturers love to claim that their lights will make us safer. But the latest evidence suggests otherwise. What's the real truth about lighting and crime? Phil Edwards, an expert on transport and health from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, whose research sparked the debate on the topic earlier this year, debates with other experts including Reine Karlsson of Lund University, Nigel Parry of OrangeTEK and Simon Nicholas an independent streetlighting quality campaigner.

Register for your FREE pass at luxlive.co.uk/register

Comments 10

My Ex-boyfriend left me and my daughter since 6 weeks ago after, I tried ALMOST EVERYTHING to restore my relationship and I was disappointed. None was working out, A week later I saw Dr. Sam website and after I contact Dr. Sam for help, everything automatically change, my sadness became joy, smile was all over my face, everything happened very FAST and the result was effective. Dr Sam is the ONLY spell caster who i had success with, my boyfriend called me and said she wanted us to come back and also want to marry me. he came back to me begging me to accept him back and this happened Due to the help of Dr. Sam. I Am so happy that I have my boyfriend back. Contact Dr. Sam now for an urgent and fast love spell to win your relationship back. Supremespellcast@gmail.com Or Supremespellcast@yahoo.com WhatsApp or call him +2347087462033 His blog> https://24hourslovespell.blogspot.com Name: Mary Counts Country: Canada

LOVE SPELL FOR BROKEN RELATIONSHIP AND MARRIAGE WHATSAPP +2349066410185 am here to share with you my life experience on how a great man called Dr gbojie saved me and my marriage.I have been Married & Barren for for 5 years i had no child. i have never been pregnant i was a subject of laughter from my Friends & neighbors, i almost lost my marriage because of this issue.i was so confused that i did not know what to do until i came across this great Dr online and i contacted him at once i was scared weather it was going to work because i never believed things like this before, so i decided to give it a try and i did all what Dr gbojie asked of me and today to my greatest surprise i took in the first time and i gave birth to a bouncing baby boy and now my marriage that was about crashing before is now restored. my husband now love and want me better, Am so happy for everything that have been happening in my life since i met this Dr gbojie .I want to tell all the women/men out there who have a similar situation like mine,that the world is not over YET they should dry up their tears and contact this great man and their problem will be gone or are you also having other problems you can also contact gbojiespiritualtemple@gmail.com His spells is for a better life OR call his number +2349066410185 website : http://gbojiespiritualtemple.website2.me blog : https://brokenmindmend.blogspot.com

Contact Dr Raypower at urgentspellcast@gmail.com if you want to get your Husband, Wife, Boyfriend and Girlfriend back now and regain your happiness. Hi i am Laura Christ from USA I have just experience the wonders of Dr. Raypower love spell, that have been spread on the internet and worldwide, How he marvelously helped people all over the world to restored back their marriage life and get back lost lovers, and also help to win lottery. I contacted him after going through so many testimonies from different people how he help to bring back ex lover back, i told him about my husband that abandoned me about 8 months ago, and left home with all i had.. Dr Raypower only told me to smile and have a rest of mind he will handle all in just 24 hours, After the second day my husband called me, i was just so shocked, i pick the call and couldn't believe my ears, he was really begging me to forgive him and making promises on phone.. He came back home and also got me a new car just for him to proof his love for me. i was so happy and called Dr Raypower and thanked him, he only told me to share the good news all over the world .. Well if you need an effective and real spell caster contact Dr Raypower Via email: urgentspellcast@gmail.com or urgentspellcast@yahoo.com or Call or WhatsApp: +1 (424) 330-8109 and also see more reviews about him on his website: http://urgentspellcast.website2.me/ view his blog page: https://urgentpowerfullovespell.blogspot.com/

After being in relationship with Wilson for seven years,he broke up with me, I did everything possible to bring him back but all was in vain, I wanted him back so much because of the love I have for him, I begged him with everything, I made promises but he refused. I explained my problem to someone online and she suggested that I should contact a spell caster that could help me cast a spell to bring him back but I am the type that don’t believed in spell, I had no choice than to try it, I meant a spell caster called Dr Zuma zuk and I email him, and he told me there was no problem that everything will be okay before three days, that my ex will return to me before three days, he cast the spell and surprisingly in the second day, it was around 4pm. My ex called me, I was so surprised, I answered the call and all he said was that he was so sorry for everything that happened, that he wanted me to return to him, that he loves me so much. I was so happy and went to him, that was how we started living together happily again. Since then, I have made promise that anybody I know that have a relationship problem, I would be of help to such person by referring him or her to the only real and powerful spell caster who helped me with my own problem and who is different from all the fake ones out there. Anybody could need the help of the spell caster, his email: spiritualherbalisthealing@gmail.com or call him +2348105150446 you can email him if you need his assistance in your relationship or anything. CONTACT HIM NOW FOR SOLUTION TO ALL YOUR PROBLEMS’

Hi everyone I'm Olivia Hannah and am here to share the wonderful work Dr Raypower did for me. After 5 years in marriage with my husband with 2 kids, my husband started acting weird and going out with other ladies and showed me cold love, on several occasions he threatens to divorce me if I dare question him about his affair with other ladies, I was totally devastated and confused until a old friend of mine told me about a spell caster on the internet called Dr. Raypower who help people with relationship and marriage problem by the powers of love spells, at first I doubted if such thing ever exists but decided to give it a try, when I contact him, he helped me cast a love spell and within 48hours my husband came back to me and started apologizing, now he has stopped going out with other ladies and his with me for good and for real. Contact this great love spell caster for your relationship or marriage problem to be solved today via email: Urgentspellcast@gmail.com or Urgentspellcast@yahoo.com or Call or WhatsApp: +14243308109. Read more about him on his website: http://urgentspellcast.website2.me/ and Blogs: https://urgentpowerfullovespell.blogspot.com/

Contact Dr. Sam at Supremespellcast@gmail.com if you want to get your Husband, Wife, Boyfriend and Girlfriend back now and regain your happiness. My name is Lisa Amy. I am really pleased with this service Dr. Sam render to me. I am one of those people who said, “I’ll never call a psychic or a magician or whatever” to help me with my problems – least of all my love problems, but I reached the point where I knew I needed some guidance, and I’m so glad I found this man called Dr. Sam I never in a million years would have thought I’d be writing a letter like this, but when I nearly lost Andrew in one of our stupid, fights (he broke up with me), I thought I had lost everything.i cry all day and think that he will never come back to me again.I read a testimony by a man called Taylor Borg about him saying that how Dr. Sam helps him to get back is EX wife within 24 hours.I quickly email him. He did a (Lover spell) for me. 24 hours later, my (Ex-Boyfriend) came to me and apologized for the wrongs he did and promise never to do it again. Ever since then, everything has returned back to normal and our love is now stronger that he can't do without being with me. I and my boyfriend are living together happily again. Dr. Sam is the best online spell caster that is powerful and genuine. And when I was at my most desperate, he didn’t take advantage of me. You performed a very good service for a person in true need. I don’t know how you did it, or how this magic works, but all I know is, IT WORKS!! Andrew and i are happily back together, and I’ll always be grateful to Dr. Sam email him for any kinds of help is very capable and reliable for help. His blog> https://supremespells.blogspot.com Email him {Supremespellcast@gmail.com Or Supremespellcast@yahoo.com} {WhatsApp/Call: +2347087462033}

Folks, Lots of generalities flying around here. 1) "Good" lighting is not necessarily "more" lighting. More light does not equate to more safety. (Lots of science on this. ) Brightly-illuminated zones create dark areas at the margins. By so doing, pedestrians are 'safer' inside the lit-areas, but more-vulnerable outside. High-contrast lighting creates places for bad-guys to hide. 2) Type of fixture is also critical: does the 'street-light' have proper shielding so light is directed downward where it's needed, vs. horizontally where it simply shines in everyone's eyes ? 3) Publicly-lit spaces are proper location for the best SPECTRUM of light, since 'even', overall-lighting creates space in which the human-eye be best-utilized for protection and defense. An amber visual area may be far more-desirable - for multiple reasons - than an over-lit LED blast-zone. 4) Timing is also relevant. When is the light needed? Can it function on a motion-sensor trigger ? - Too much light can be harmful to human health, and society has been living in electrified nocturnal environments for a relatively short period of time. Jurisdictions considering street-lighting overhaul need to become knowledgeable about the complexities of this issue. Suggest Flagstaff Dark Skies Coalition or International Dark Skies Association. Inform yourself for better results.

A good friend of mine has only two days ago been burgled by someone who used the wheely bin to jump onto the gate, onto the garage roof, from where they could kick in a first floor window. The new LED streetlight was just enough for them to see what they were doing without drawing undue attention to their actions.

A good friend of mine has only two days ago been burgled by someone who used the wheely bin to jump onto the gate, onto the garage roof, from where they could kick in a first floor window. The new LED streetlight was just enough for them to see what they were doing without drawing undue attention to their actions.

It is an interesting concept about darkness reducing crime. Clearly complete inky darkness would put many in the position of not being able to find their way around to do burglary or property damage. But crimes of violence against individuals is a different thing completely, where removing the cover of darkness allows one to avoid attackers and also allows others to see what is going on. So it would seem that it depends on what kind of crime one is considering as to the effect of illumination. IN the Detroit area crime against persons had increased in areas where the street lighting has failed.

Leave your comment