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Tips for effective security lighting

Requests for information to help improve the security of businesses has grown exponentially over the last five years. While there are a variety of strategies an organization can put into place to help improve security, effective security lighting has been identified as a critical asset in fighting crime and should be a part of your crime prevention program. Organizations may benefit from understanding the principles of security lighting; and then evaluate and monitor the impact their current lighting arrangements have on reducing criminal activity. The following tips will help you incorporate effective security lighting into your crime prevention strategies.

According to Guideline for Security Lighting for People, Property, and Public Spaces the principles of security lighting include (applicable to new facilities, or existing facilities, those being upgraded or converted):

  • Integration of illumination into the total security system, thereby facilitating the effectiveness of other security devices or procedures;
  • Illumination of objects, people, and places to allow observation and identification, thereby reducing criminal concealment;
  • Illumination to deter criminal acts by increasing fear of detection, identification, and apprehension;
  • Lessening the fear of crime by enhancing a perception of security;
  • Illumination that allows persons to more easily avoid threats, and to take defensive action when threats are perceived.

To aid in the evaluation of a building’s lighting, the guide further outlines that security lighting, as part of a well-balanced security plan, should have the following objectives:

  1. Provide a clear view of an area from a distance and enable anyone moving in, or immediately around it, to be easily seen.
  2. Deny potential hiding spaces adjacent to frequently traveled foot routes.
  3. Permit facial identification at distance of at least 9 m (30 ft.), and create the perception of being identifiable.
  4. Facilitate the proper use of other security devices available on the property.
  5. Deter crime against persons or property.
  6. Enhance the public’s feeling of comfort in accessing spaces and increase night-time pedestrian traffic.

Along with utilizing these tips, it is recommended that organizations partner with their local law enforcement agencies and business watch programs to further strengthen their crime prevention efforts. Organizations can learn more about Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) and business watch programs by visiting . There you will find the Safety 1st Guide – Crime Prevention through Environmental Design.

•    Illuminating Engineering Society of North America Security Lighting Committee (2003).  Guideline for Security Lighting for People, Property, and Public Spaces. New York, NY