There is no doubt that lighting is a necessity in today’s world. Its primary purpose may just be to illuminate the surroundings, but the secondary benefits extend way above and beyond. Darkness in built-up areas such as residential, commercial and public spaces may lead to a feeling of fear. Concern for being attacked outdoors after dark is natural and has a negative impact on a lot of people’s life. Not only this, but darkness also creates a favourable environment for theft, burglary, vandalism, and even stalkers. The idea of such crimes prevents people from going outside when its dark.
The idea of adequate street lighting has popped a lot many times. Various measures are being taken, and infrastructure is continuously improving to safeguard the interests of a common citizen. Everyone should be able to walk alone at midnight without fear – that is a fundamental right. In addition to the law enforcement, the environment (public spaces) should be curated in a way that diminishes the idea of staying in at night. Street lights may seem like a minor element, but they play a far larger role.
How Does Improved Street Lighting Prevent Crime?
Lack of illumination is a recipe for offenders and criminals. By installing LED street light, preventing petty crime is possible. Let’s see how installing LED street lights can prevent such instances of crime.
1. Improves Surveillance
With effective street lighting, it becomes easier to identify any offenders. Since the risk of identification is higher because of ample illumination, many offenders may not commit a crime. Also, even if a crime is committed, it becomes easier for potential witnesses to identify the offender. Furthermore, using effective street lighting improves natural surveillance.
According to Routine Activity Theory (RAT), offenders follow a specific routine when offending or committing a crime. If that routine is interrupted, the potential crime can be prevented. RAT has three factors that need to occur at the same time in the same space for a crime to be executed.
- A motivated offender
- A suitable target
- Lack of a guardian to prevent the crime from happening
Containing any one of these factors will result in avoiding an event of an offence. LED street lights can play the role of a guardian – both suitably and capably. They have a high lumen output, are incredibly bright and illuminate an area evenly. It can discourage an offender from committing a crime in a space that appears to be well-illuminated like its broad daylight. Moreover, surveillance of an area illuminated by LED street lights is easier and effective.
Apart from LED street lights, street lighting poles also play a major role in surveillance and are a crucial element of an effective outdoor lighting system. They can serve as data stations with sensors for adaptive lighting, pollution and weather sensing and monitoring. Together they can monitor daylight and turn the lights off and on, employ a 24-hour online monitoring system (GIS), and improve security with CCTV cameras and anti-theft alarms installed on them.
2. Improves Informal Social Control and Community Confidence
According to the broken windows theory, physical dilapidation of an area due to negligence increases crime because it gives an impression that authorities do not care. It fosters the idea of crime and offenders believe no one will intervene in case he or she commits a crime. Reversing this notion and delivering a sense of care is possible with effective LED street lighting. It improves communities as a whole. An enhanced density of pedestrians in an area is regarded as a crucial factor for crime prevention. The more effectively an area is illuminated, the more welcoming it is to the citizens. It increases natural and informal control over such social situations.
3. Acts as a Psychological Deterrent
When social control, surveillance and order of an area increase, criminals will reconsider committing crimes in such areas because of the risk involved. When an area in a city has ample illumination, people are more involved, and this social dynamic can act as a psychological deterrent among offenders. Crime may stop or displace to other places.
Deriving security is possible by effectively lighting the streets. It improves the sense of safety in public spaces and areas in its proximity. Not only is it a proven protocol for community wellness, but it is also the right step in the future when technologically advanced lighting solutions such as LED lights are installed. LEDs are also paving their way towards smart cities and are the underlying framework for IoT applications that extend from convenience to safety.
Without a doubt, improved street lighting will keep people safe. It will also make it easier for the authorities to identify offenders in case of any crime. LED lights are a successful measure for reducing crime and promoting socially and infrastructurally strong societies.