Program Goal/Target Population
Street lighting in Stoke-on-Trent, England, was upgraded in a residential area to see if crime, fear of crime, and resident perceptions would be affected.
The area selected for relighting was identified by the local council on the basis of perceived need. The program targeted residents living, and offenders operating, on poorly lit estates. Targeted behaviors included increasing surveillance through increased pedestrian presence on the street, reducing offences through increased offender perception of risk, and increasing care-taking of the area through improved community spirit.
The key components of the program were the provision of lighting and lighting columns to provide luminosity that conformed to government set standards (BS 5489, Part 3). The lighting that was replaced did not even meet the minimum standard of the lowest of three lighting-standards categories. As a result, the new lighting created a fivefold increase in the amount of useful light.
From mid-December 1992 through mid-January 1993, domestic-type tungsten lamps were replaced by 110 high-pressure sodium street lights, which were installed over 1,000 meters of residential roadway at intervals of approximately 38 meters. Lighting was also installed on detached footpaths. The new lighting provided an average illuminance of 6 lux, with a minimum of 2.5 lux provided. The new installation almost doubled maintenance and energy costs.
The theory behind how and why street lighting works is comprehensively spelled out by situational crime prevention as well as crime prevention through environmental design (or CPTED). Specifically, increased lighting increases risks for offenders by increasing the likelihood of detection, both by formal surveillance systems and through natural surveillance. It also reduces the anonymity of offenders and increases risk of apprehension through facial identification. Street lighting can signal important investment in an area, which can strengthen informal social control and community cohesion.