[Darksky]Light and crime again

Jan Hollan
Thu, 11 Nov 2004 10:52:19 +0100 (CET)

(An announcement of the availability of

 Crime reduction: What works? How do we know? Are we sure? )

I've updated my directory http://amper.ped.muni.cz/light/crime/ (in fact,
just its readme.en.html which is displayed at the bottom) to include the
excellent September 2004 presentation by Paul Marchant, extending the
argumentation used in a paper published by him in the May 2004 issue of
Brit. J. of Criminology.

This presentation reacts to the Farrington & Welsh reply (it was published
in the same issue of BJC) to the Marchant's paper. A draft of the more
detailed reaction by Dr. Marchant was not published by the Journal (we can
speculate why...), but there is a link to it on my page.

The official publication of the presentation is a good occasion to remind
IDA on its silence about the 3rd millennium papers.

``HORS 251'' is a heavy burden on the night-restoration activities, an
extremely damaging nonsense which has to be counterbalanced actively. IDA
could well continue to say that it's not known whether lighting reduces
crime or promotes it, but then it has to say very loudly, that the Home
Office Report 251 by Farrington & Welsh is of no significance, being just
an example of junk science.

Lighting professionals are mostly no experts in statistics. Those who are,
including scientists from various disciplines who have experience in
state-of-the-art data processing, should say them their opinion. I hope
they are such in the IDA leadership. And I beg them to study the
current crime&light papers and formulate a strong standpoint.

Going behind these Paul Marchant's works, which are concise and surely not

A superstition that lighting reduces crime is one of the most usual
arguments for more light. A humble remark that it may not be so is not at
all sufficient to stop expansion of pollution of night environment.

I asked David Crawford, who objected to the Barry Clark's updated paper,
in September 2003 to write some critics of it -- if he knows weak points
in the paper, it should be not so difficult for him. We spoke about the
end of 2003, as perpetuating the IDA silence further on would be
untenable, in my view.

It's one year later now, and the silence is still there. Stronger (and
very bad of course, as the lights should be visible to deter criminals...)
lighting is marching on, backed by the false argument.

I see where the problem with Dr. Clark's paper is: it has not the (mostly
hidden, elsewhere) assumption behind, that light is (always) a blessing.
And its outcome is that light at night seems, curiously, to be a poison
damaging the society.

No wonder people, whose life mission was to add light everywhere, feel
uneasy. But they could overcome it. Physicians do work with poisons to
help people. Lighting engineers should work with a similar, cautious
attitude. They would, if the public notion of light as a dangerous stuff
would become common.

Year after year my feeling that light at night is a disastrous phenomenon
grows stronger. So many diseases of our society are at least partly
attributable to it. It's bad to be addict. But we all are -- to artificial
light -- in a never-thought-of extent.

Many thanks to those, who point to it,
and the more to those, who have elaborated their arguments thoroughly.