Program Goal/Target Population
New, improved street lighting was installed in one estate in Dudley, West Midlands (England), and monitored to see whether improved lighting reduced crime in the project area.
The program targeted residents living, and offenders operating, on poorly lit estates. Targeted behaviors included increased surveillance through increased pedestrian presence on the street, reduced offenses through increased offender perception of risk, and increased 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. Over 4 weeks in February through March 1992, old mercury lamps were replaced with 129 high-pressure sodium street lights. These lights were installed over 1,500 meters of residential roadway, at intervals of 33 meters. The lights met the requirements of category 3/2 of BS 5489, which specifies an average illuminance of between 2.5 and 6 lux. This installation more than doubled the amount of useful light.
The program resulted in energy savings and reduced maintenance costs.
Theoretically, modification in nighttime visibility within urban areas can make a significant difference in fear of crime and crime levels, and strengthen the ability of a community to supervise itself. Modifying the environment in this fashion should reduce opportunities for crime by increasing the perceived risk of detection, provided that informal social control and sufficient community cohesion exists in the first place. Enhanced visibility, coupled with personal investment in the area and interest in watching the public areas of a community, should increase pedestrian safety and reduce fear. Moreover, the process of responding to community concerns, together with noticeable investment in the public areas, by city officials can strengthen resident confidence, which, in turn, can heighten community cohesion and informal social control. In this regard, lighting modification has an indirect effect on crime and related public safety issues; its influence is mediated by collective neighborhood efficacy. As such, one of the most important indicators of the effectiveness of street lighting is the increased use of streets by area residents after dark.