Darker Streets Threaten Women’s Safety
In a worrying development for women’s perceptions of safety, a survey conducted by the Labour Party in November 2011 revealed that over half of local authorities who responded were in the process of reducing their street lighting. This problem will be at its worst over the next months of Winter due to the long hours of darkness and many women’s testimonies explained how this impacts their freedom to move around their areas safely:
“Due to cutbacks by the Government, some councils have turned street lights off. This is a real danger for women who work at night. I’m an Avon lady so I’m concerned about my colleagues, many of whom deliver at night”- Sharon (evidence submitted via the Everywoman Safe Everywhere website)
“Cuts to street lighting – imposed by Suffolk Country Council – are happening here in Ipswich. Female friends who live in these areas tell me [and I can confirm from having looked at a few] that it is quite scary. If you don’t have a car, can’t afford taxis and are used to walking around your own town in safety, it does make quite a difference having this “curfew” imposed.” – Netta, evidence submitted via Everywoman Safe Everywhere website.
“It feels like a curfew has been imposed….If I am visiting friends for the evening… I find myself leaving early to get home before the lights go out.” – Evidence submitted via Everywoman Safe Everywhere website
Take Action: Write to your local council to ask them not to cut street lighting in your area. You can find a template letter here.
If you get a response, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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This campaign came from a workshop in London in July.
- As USDAW have found, it is often women who feel particularly vulnerable at night and rely on well-lit streets.
- Several studies commissioned by the Home Office have demonstrated the link between street lighting and crime, for example see: The Effects of Improved Street Lighting on Crime; Home Office Research Study.
- A survey carried out by The Daily Telegraph in October 2011 found that 98 out of 133 local authorities who responded to a survey said they were scaling back street lighting, or were looking into doing so.
- A survey carried out by BBC Newsnight in November 2010 showed that of 75 councils it spoke to in England and Wales, 32 said they would turn some lights off; nine were dimming lights and 14 considering street light cutbacks.