Literature study: The effects of reduced public lighting on crime, fear of crime, and road safety

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Abstract

Since the 1960s, a large volume of studies and reviews describing the impact of improved street lighting on crime, fear of crime, and road traffic accidents have been published. In the 1960s, improved street lighting had been introduced as a crime prevention strategy in light of increasing crime rates (Palmer, 2000; Wright, Heilweil, Pelletier, & Dickinson, 1974). More recently, the interest of policy makers has shifted to the reduction of street lighting and its effect on the economy and the environment. Interest in the impact of reduced street lighting on social aspects, such as crime, fear of crime, and road traffic accidents seems to have faded. This literature study focus on the social effects of the current interventions by trying to find answers to its central question: what is the impact of reduced street lighting on crime, fear of crime, and road safety? The objective of this paper is to present an overview of the most relevant literature available. Because specific research on the reduction of street lighting is scarce, we also discuss the impact of improved street lighting on these social aspects. It is important to point to the difference between the effects of lighting interventions on crime and traffic accidents, on the one hand, and on feelings of insecurity, on the other. This distinction between objective security versus subjective security is crucial. In the past, research focused mainly on crimes; the concept ‘fear of crime’ has only emerged since the 1960s (Cohen, 1980; Godfrey, 2018; Lee, 2013; Vanderveen, 2006). The boom of research after that contributed to a recent consensus in criminology that crime and fear of crime are nearly unrelated, both having their own dynamics and relationships. This has led to the current intense debates about the concept of ‘fear of crime’ itself (Farrall, Bannister, Ditton, & Gilchrist, 1997; Farrall, 2004; Farrall & Ditton, 1999; Lee, 2013) . This literature study is structured in two parts: crime and road safety. In Part One, we first discuss the relationship between street lighting interventions and crime. We subsequently discuss the current knowledge about street lighting interventions and fear of crime. Part Two follows the same structure, but with a focus on road safety. We finish with conclusions for both parts.
Original languageEnglish
Commissioning bodyprovincie West-Vlaanderen
Number of pages40
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2019

Keywords

  • crime
  • fear of crime
  • Road Safety
  • public lighting

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