Following the switching off or dimming of street lights in a number of areas across the UK, the Neighbourhood & Home Watch Network (England & Wales) (NHWN) and Suzy Lamplugh Trust carried out a survey to learn more about the possible effects of these changes on residents’ behaviour and perceptions of crime.
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15,786 people across England and Wales responded to the survey. 22% of participants said that lighting had been switched off or dimmed in their area. Of those participants, 55.8% of the women and 38.8% of the men said that their community now feels less safe. When comparing the data by age, a higher number of younger respondents felt their safety was negatively affected.
Jim Maddan, Chair of NHWN, said:
“The main aim behind the Neighbourhood and Home Watch movement is to help people feel safe where they live, and appropriate levels of street lighting contribute to that. Most people do appreciate the need for cost savings by local authorities but it is important that residents are consulted to find out how they feel about crime, safety and lighting levels in their neighbourhood.
“Lighting is not a catch-all solution to crime and anti-social behaviour, but it needs to be suitable for the area in question, and local people’s views should be listened to and taken into consideration. Any change that makes people feel less safe when out and about in their communities is a step backwards.”
With regards to feelings of safety on the streets in general, 92.9% of participants said they feel ‘very’ or ‘fairly’ safe in well-lit areas but only 22% said they do in unlit or poorly lit areas.
Asked how dimming or switching off lighting affects their behaviour, 40% of respondents considered going out less, 65% avoided unlit areas and 15% said they would take taxis rather than walk.
Rachel Griffin, from Suzy Lamplugh Trust, said:
“The survey indicates that a significant proportion of residents are adversely affected by a lack of or poor street lighting in their local area and this should be taken into consideration by councils when making decisions about lighting.
“Councils also need to be aware that some demographics are more affected by changes to lighting than others, for example young people and women expressed strong concerns in our survey. The impact on these residents should be carefully considered by councils to avoid adversely affecting the quality of life of any group of people. We hope that local councils take this into consideration when planning any changes to street lighting.”
Read more by downloading the full report here.