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J Epidemiol Community Health doi:10.1136/jech-2015-206012
  • Research report

The effect of reduced street lighting on road casualties and crime in England and Wales: controlled interrupted time series analysis

Open Access
  1. Phil Edwards2
  1. 1Department of Social and Environmental Health Research, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, UK
  2. 2Department of Population Health, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, UK
  3. 3Department of Security and Crime Science, University College London, London, UK
  4. 4Department of Health Services Research, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Phil Edwards, Department of Population Health, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, London WC1E 7HT, UK; Phil.Edwards{at}lshtm.ac.uk
  • Received 6 May 2015
  • Revised 2 June 2015
  • Accepted 3 June 2015
  • Published Online First 28 July 2015

Abstract

Background Many local authorities in England and Wales have reduced street lighting at night to save money and reduce carbon emissions. There is no evidence to date on whether these reductions impact on public health. We quantified the effect of 4 street lighting adaptation strategies (switch off, part-night lighting, dimming and white light) on casualties and crime in England and Wales.

Methods Observational study based on analysis of geographically coded police data on road traffic collisions and crime in 62 local authorities. Conditional Poisson models were used to analyse longitudinal changes in the counts of night-time collisions occurring on affected roads during 2000–2013, and crime within census Middle Super Output Areas during 2010–2013. Effect estimates were adjusted for regional temporal trends in casualties and crime.

Results There was no evidence that any street lighting adaptation strategy was associated with a change in collisions at night. There was significant statistical heterogeneity in the effects on crime estimated at police force level. Overall, there was no evidence for an association between the aggregate count of crime and switch off (RR 0.11; 95% CI 0.01 to 2.75) or part-night lighting (RR 0.96; 95% CI 0.86 to 1.06). There was weak evidence for a reduction in the aggregate count of crime and dimming (RR 0.84; 95% CI 0.70 to 1.02) and white light (RR 0.89; 95% CI 0.77 to 1.03).

Conclusions This study found little evidence of harmful effects of switch off, part-night lighting, dimming, or changes to white light/LEDs on road collisions or crime in England and Wales.

This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/

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