Street Lighting Reduces Crime in City Public Housing

Information from Crimesolutions.gov

The program was designed to reduce nighttime crime in public housing developments by adding more light towers. The program targets public housing developments which are experiencing elevated crime rates.

The study focused on four main outcomes: 1) index crime complaints; 2) felony crime complaints; 3) assault, homicide, and weapons crime complaints; and 4) misdemeanor crime complaints. Index crime complaints were defined using an offense type variable and included murder and non-negligent manslaughter, negligent or unclassified homicide, robbery, felony assault, burglary, and grand larceny of a motor vehicle.

Evaluation

Nighttime Index Crimes
It was found that adding one additional light tower to public housing developments in the treatment group reduced complaints of outdoor nighttime index crimes by 48 percent, compared with the control group. This difference was statistically significant.

Nighttime Felony Crimes
Adding one light tower to developments in the treatment group reduced complaints of outdoor nighttime felony crimes by 37 percent, compared with the control group. This difference was statistically significant.

Nighttime Assaults, Homicides, Weapons Crimes
Adding one light tower to developments in the treatment group reduced complaints of outdoor nighttime assaults, homicides, and weapons crimes by 30 percent, compared with the control group. This difference was statistically significant.

Nighttime Misdemeanor Crimes
There were no statistically significant differences between the treatment and control groups in complaints of outdoor nighttime misdemeanor crimes.

The conclusion based on this work is that lighting is a deterrent for criminal activity.  Placement of lighting is also an important factor. This is consistent with the Crime Prevention through Environment Design (CPTED) guidelines.

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