UK ups street light spending following woman's murder

March 16, 2021
The now £45 million Safer Streets Fund also includes CCTV and other measures across England and Wales.

The UK government has announced it is nearly doubling the funds it is providing to make streets safer with lighting, CCTV, and other measures, a move that follows the high profile murder of a 33-year-old London woman earlier this month.

Marketing executive Sarah Everard went missing on Mar. 3 while walking home at night. Investigators found her body in a wooded area about 60 miles to the southeast a week later. Wayne Couzens, a 48-year-old London police officer, has been charged with her kidnap and murder.

The case has drawn widespread attention to the safety of streets for women and girls.

After a meeting of the Criminal Justice Taskforce, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the government is increasing its Safer Streets Fund spending to £45 million.  The UK launched the £25M fund in October 2019 and allocated £22.4M last July across 35 police jurisdictions in England and Wales, withholding £2.6M until a later date.

The total is now £45M.

“The horrific case of Sarah Everard has unleashed a wave of feeling about women not feeling safe at night,” Prime Minister Johnson said. “We must do everything we can to ensure our streets are safe, and we are bringing in landmark legislation to toughen sentences and put more police on the streets.

We are also now taking further steps to provide greater reassurance, such as providing better lighting and greater use of CCTV in parks and routes women may take on their walks home. Ultimately, we must drive out violence against women and girls and make every part of the criminal justice system work to better protect and defend them.”

Street lighting features prominently in the scheme which also includes CCTV, home security, neighborhood watch, and crime prevention advice.

The additional funding is intended to help police and crime commissioners focus on concerns for women and girls, and “are now more focused on preventing sexual violence,” the government said in a press release.

“This could include targeting parks and alleyways, and routes from bars, restaurants and nightclubs as we see a return to the night-time economy, in line with the lifting of coronavirus restrictions,” it stated.

It said it is also rolling out pilot programs of “Project Vigilant” in which plainclothes officers watch for suspicious behavior around bars and nightclubs.

The Safer Streets move comes about a week after thinktank Centre For London started a push for a coordinated lighting scheme in London to encourage a post-pandemic economic recovery, with pedestrian safety a key element. Planning of the Centre's ideas started well before Sarah Everard's murder.

LEDs Magazine will write about the Centre's initiative in a separate article.

MARK HALPER is a contributing editor for LEDs Magazine, and an energy, technology, and business journalist ([email protected]).

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About the Author

Mark Halper | Contributing Editor, LEDs Magazine, and Business/Energy/Technology Journalist

Mark Halper is a freelance business, technology, and science journalist who covers everything from media moguls to subatomic particles. Halper has written from locations around the world for TIME Magazine, Fortune, Forbes, the New York Times, the Financial Times, the Guardian, CBS, Wired, and many others. A US citizen living in Britain, he cut his journalism teeth cutting and pasting copy for an English-language daily newspaper in Mexico City. Halper has a BA in history from Cornell University.