Personal Safety
June 12, 2024
Crime Prevention
Is feeling unsafe at night a Perception or a Reality?

Is feeling unsafe at night a Perception or a Reality?

Walking home at night feels significantly different compared to walking home during daylight. Various factors contribute to this feeling.

Walking home at night feels significantly different compared to walking home during daylight. Various factors contribute to this feeling. It's a combination of perception and reality that builds the fear or uncertainty that nighttime brings. Humans, like other animals, are affected by different factors, both social and psychological, when facing the dark.

Historically, our ancestors were more vulnerable to predators at night, which heightened their sense of caution in the dark. This trait has been passed down as a survival mechanism. Darkness also limits our ability to see and interpret our surroundings, leading to a fear of the unknown. Moreover, areas that lack street lighting or community activity can make nighttime environments feel unsafe. The increased use of the Internet and social media also shapes perceptions of safety by highlighting the dangers of specific areas, especially at night.

The question then arises: Is there more crime at night?

Short answer: Not necessarily.

Long answer: Factors such as low visibility and fewer people around can make it feel more dangerous. However, there isn’t specific research in Victoria that states crimes are more likely to occur at night compared to any other time of the day. Research from New South Wales indicates that crimes occurring late at night (around 12 am to 6 am) are mostly alcohol-related. This doesn't cover other crimes like number plate theft or break-ins.

The difference lies between being safe and feeling safe. According to the ABS Personal Safety Survey 2021-2022, women were more likely than men to avoid walking alone in their local area after dark because they felt unsafe. Women were also less likely to use public transport after dark due to fear and uncertainty. The strongest indicators of a safe place are the presence of others and feeling supported by the surrounding community.

In the post-pandemic world, it is possible to be in an objectively safe environment and still feel unsafe, or vice versa especially with lockdowns and the heightened awareness of personal safety. It can amplify our emotions which can make it harder for people to still adjust and be comfortable in public spaces. This would also mean that areas with high foot traffic can also still increase the sense of unease

What is the Best Way to Foster the Feeling of Safety at Night?

  1. Have emergency services on speed dial. If you are a university student or know one, refer them to our page for a compilation of security services offered at each university in Victoria.
  2. Share your location with loved ones. Offering a friend a ride or walking them home can ease the pressure of fear when navigating uncertain areas.
  3. Write to your local council to report areas lacking street lights or where lights are not working.
  4. Report any anti-social behaviour or any suspicious behaviour to Crime Stoppers
  5. If you've experienced sexual violence and would like to talk to someone in Victoria, call the Sexual Assault Crisis Line on 1800 806 292, or call 1800RESPECT across Australia.
  6. Join or start a local Neighbourhood Watch group. Being engaged with the community around you is one of the best ways to increase your sense of familiarity and safety within your area.

Get Police Assistance

For all emergencies and immediate Police assistance
Call: 000
To report non-urgent crimes or events 24 hours a day
Call: 131 444
To report information about a crime contact Crime Stoppers on
1800 333 000

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Neighbourhood Watch Victoria acknowledges the 38 mobs, the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we operate, live, and gather as employees and volunteers. We recognise their continuing connection to land, water and community and pay respect to Elders past, present and emerging.

At Neighbourhood Watch, we believe everyone has the right to feel safe and welcome. We are committed to ensuring diversity, inclusion and equity are embedded throughout our organisation – in the work we do, the services we deliver and among our staff, volunteers, and the communities we work with.