Improved lighting can be an effective crime prevention tool because:
- it can improve surveillance and increase the risk of offenders being detected
- people feel safer in well illuminated areas, increasing activity, which can further improve surveillance and deter crime.
However, it is important to understand that in some situations lighting may be counterproductive. For example:
- lighting an asset in an unused or isolated area without passing surveillance may make it easier for crimes to be committed
- lighting an area not intended for night-time use may give users a false sense of security.
Before choosing lighting as your crime prevention solution, an overall security assessment is recommended. The following questions should be an initial prompt:
- What is the problem you are trying to address?
- When is the problem occurring? Is there any pattern? What do your local police say?
- Is the area intended for night-time use?
- Who will benefit from the light? Will it support surveillance or help an offender?
- Is there any other way the problem could be tackled?
- Is improved lighting alone likely to address the problem?
Other important considerations
- There are numerous Australian standards related to lighting and only registered electrical contractors should be engaged for any type of electrical work.
- Install lighting preferably at a height that prevents vandalism and consider protective caging.
- Use products made from heavy-duty, smash-resistant material like polycarbonate.
- White light is generally regarded as the most effective colour for facial recognition.
- Choosing energy efficient lighting is environmentally sustainable and helps reduce energy costs.
- Direct lighting downwards to illuminate immediate surrounds and minimise light pollution.
- Avoid placing lighting in positions that may eventually be blocked by growing trees or plants.
- Consult with neighbours and others likely to be impacted by your proposed lighting.
- Installation of lighting poles may require council approval.
Further information on lighting can be found at:
- Safer Design Guidelines
- Designing out Crime, Lighting for Crime Prevention
- Energy Efficiency Best Practice Guide Lighting (Sustainability Victoria)