Program Goal/Target Population
New, improved street lighting was installed in one estate in Dudley, West Midlands (
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.
Prevalence of Crime
Painter and Farrington (1997) found that in the experimental area, prevalence of crime decreased by 23 percent, compared to a 3 percent decrease in the control area. This effect was statistically significant. The decline was even more pronounced among the over-60 population in the treatment area (44 percent decline). The self-report survey of young people (Painter and Farrington 2001) confirmed that young people had decreased offending in the treatment area.
Incidence of Crime
The incidence of crime (the average number of victimizations per 100 households) decreased by 41 percent (from 114.8 crimes per 100 households to 68.0) in the treatment area. This contrasted with a decrease of 15 percent in the control area. The individual categories of crime were also analyzed. Painter and Farrington (1997) found that the changes in the experimental area were significantly greater than in the control for vehicle crime, property crime, personal crime, and all crime.
Percentage of Respondents Who Knew a Victim
This did not change in the experimental area, but increased substantially in the control area.
Fear of Crime
There was a small reduction in fear of crime in the treatment area compared to the control area. The experimental participants were significantly less likely to say that crime was a problem or that there were risks for women going out after dark. Pedestrian street use increased after the lighting installation; more women used the streets after dark in the experimental area (an increase of 27.7 percent) compared to the control area (a decrease of 21.2 percent). Participants in the experimental area were also significantly more likely to say postintervention that their estate was safe after dark and that the quality of life had improved. The experimental sample was somewhat more satisfied with their estate after the intervention (65.6 percent versus 59.6 percent), although this difference was not statistically significant.
The self-report survey of young people (Painter and Farrington 2001) indicated that young people also thought crime had decreased more in the experimental area and that their fear of crime after dark had also decreased more in the experimental area.
There was no evidence that spatial, temporal, or target displacement occurred.