Less lighting, more crime?

security lighting


It’s that time of year again when we’re all faced with long, cold, dark nights. And each year we see the same debate crop up – does lighting reduce crime?

Last year we wrote a blog post explaining the importance of IR lighting as a security measure, looking at the difference between infrared lighting and white light, weighing up the benefits of both for security purposes.

This year we want to flag up the debate again.

Is there a correlation between crime and lighting?

Back in July we read this article in Guardian that suggests there was no correlation between crime and street lighting when analysing crime data from 2010 to 2013. The research focused on offences deemed more likely to occur at night, including burglary, theft of or from a vehicle, robbery, violence and sexual assault.

The research was directed at assessing the necessity of street lighting and whether it was something local authorities could cut to save budgets.

So, according to that study less lighting does not lead to more crime. But is the story different when we look at using lighting as a security measure for businesses?

Using lighting to improve business security

Leaders in security lighting, Raytec, recently wrote an article breaking down the basics of security lighting – how it works, why it’s important for security and it’s use alongside CCTV. You can read the article here. The article is a really useful resource for security installers looking to bolster their knowledge of security lighting and why it is so crucial to effective security systems.

Reports like the one above, claiming that less lighting doesn’t lead to more crime, can be misleading – especially for businesses. It suggests lighting isn’t required as a means of reducing crime but neglects how important it can be for making CCTV effective; both as a proactive measure to deter criminals but also as a means of ensuring CCTV footage is clear.

What to keep in mind when recommending security lighting

Security lighting is crucial for business security. It may be that there is no correlation between crime and street lighting but it can’t be contended that lighting is critical to the effectiveness of security systems.

Of course, as installers you know that integrated security systems are highly effective. By answering the questions below you’ll be able to clarify to the end-user why security lighting is a necessary addition to their security systems:

1. White or infrared light?

This is of course the big question that we tackle in our first security lighting blog. Ultimately it comes down to the purpose of security lighting – do you want a covert solution that doesn’t aid an intruder’s view of your site? Or do you want lighting that helps employees safely navigate your site whilst alerting intruders to the fact that CCTV is monitoring them?

IR lighting cannot be seen by the naked human eye but instead is picked up by specially-equipped CCTV cameras and the clearly lit footage then viewed by CCTV operators. White light is normal light that can be seen by humans, hence why it can also be considered an aid for intruders navigating a site.

2. Crime occurs at night

Crime happens 24/7 but night is often seen as an opportune time for intruders. Without sufficient lighting – either IR or white light – these crimes could go undetected.

We have plenty of examples of when security lighting has helped stop intruders in their tracks. Like in this incident when intruders broke into a site a 02:36 and thanks to effective lighting Farsight operators could spot them entering. The intruders continued to attempt their break-in under the cloak of darkness a couple of hours later, but the operators were just as vigilant.

Here’s another incident that we dealt with one night at 23:23 and in this incident at 01:08 an operator’s ability to see effectively was important to the welfare of a vulnerable individual.

3. How clear is footage from the CCTV cameras?

When installing security lighting it’s important to check with the remote monitoring station that the footage they receive is of a good enough quality.

At Farsight that’s part of the reason we conduct a 14-day soak test. This allows us to conduct a lighting test, normally on the first day of the soak test period, which assesses how clearly we can view footage from cameras we have connected to.

4. Are there any other options?

Of course each site is unique and there is a vast amount of technology available to help offer the best security solution.

In some instances, thermal CCTV cameras may be a wise investment. Find out more about the technology in our thermal CCTV cameras fact file.

5. Where is the site located and is the lighting sufficient?

Again, it’s worth reiterating that every site is different and different locations will demand different lighting technology.

For example, if white light is used is it going to cause light pollution for nearby residents? Or cause a distraction for road users? In other instances, would IR lighting not allow night-shift workers to navigate in a space safely?

With this in mind, it’s crucial that security, safety and business efficiency measures are taken into consideration. And once a suitable solution is chosen that it is implemented effectively – not allowing any blind spots or the potential for light to be blocked (perhaps by foliage or another obstruction).

All in all, security lighting offers many benefits for sites and if it’s integrated correctly then it ensures security systems are cost effective. The CCTV cameras capture well-lit footage, remote monitoring stations have a clear view of sites and it takes into account security, safety and business efficiency. Some reports may claim that there is no correlation between lighting and crime but for business security the story is very different…