Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner. Facebook Messenger An icon of the facebook messenger app logo. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Facebook Messenger An icon of the Twitter app logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. WhatsApp Messenger An icon of the Whatsapp messenger app logo. Email An icon of an mail envelope. Copy link A decentered black square over a white square.

‘Jumped from behind in the dark’: More than 75% in P&J safety survey brand Aberdeen’s street lighting inadequate

Street lighting and the city's CCTV network came in for criticism from people who took part in our survey.

A CCTV camera watching a woman walking and a woman running at night
A Press and Journal survey has uncovered safety concerns about Aberdeen's street lighting and CCTV camera coverage. Image: Kami Thomson/DC Thomson

An Aberdeen woman has recalled the terrifying ordeal of being jumped from behind near a dark bus stop and demanded a review of the city’s “ineffective” street lighting.

Laura Malone, 35, suffered broken ribs during the frightening attack that took her a year and a half to get over.

She told the Press and Journal: “I went to catch the last bus home and I decided to walk up to the next bus stop, which was under a light because the other one was very dark.

“I didn’t get more than three feet away from the dark bus stop before I was jumped from behind. I was terrified. I couldn’t go back to work for a couple of days afterwards.”

The former visiting home care worker from Mastrick described Aberdeen’s street lighting as “not powerful enough” and questioned whether there’s enough of it.

Street lighting ‘not powerful enough’

In fact, hundreds of recent visitors to the city and its residents have echoed Laura’s concerns in a safety survey carried out by the P&J.

The questionnaire came after hundreds of protesters marched through Aberdeen city centre, campaigning for urgent action on violence against women.

Results from 452 survey respondents – nearly 63% identifying as female and just over 34% male – have laid bare where their safety feels most at risk and why.

More than three-quarters of respondents (76.4% – 79% female, 73% male) have branded street lighting in Aberdeen as inadequate.

‘Aberdeen is not a safe place’

Recalling her chilling nighttime bus stop attack that happened a few years ago, Ms Malone added: “I reported it to the police. I was taken to hospital with two broken ribs.

“The police did all they could to try and find the man but I didn’t see what they looked like because it was from behind. Nothing was taken.

“We think it was a case of mistaken identity because the man spoke in another language and when I spoke back to him in English he ran away.

“It took me a year and a half to get over.”

The safety survey has highlighted concerns about the effectiveness of Aberdeen’s street lights. Image: Kami Thomson/DC Thomson

Ms Malone also said: “Aberdeen is not a safe place” and explained: “A lot of things that happen don’t get reported”.

She urged Aberdeen City Council to reconsider its existing provision of night lighting.

“There’s not a lot of street lighting and where it exists you have to be standing directly underneath it to get any light off it,” she said.

“They’re not very effective. You’ve got to be under a light to actually see anything. They’re not powerful enough.

“In some places, there aren’t enough lights, in other places there are lights but they’re not effective.

“Good coverage of effective street lighting is really important because the more light there is in a particular place the less likely offenders will be hiding.”

More than half of the people answering the survey (58.2%) said they don’t feel safe while exercising alone outside at night across Aberdeen. Image: Kami Thomson/DC Thomson

But a council spokesman, who said city officials “take the safety of women and all residents seriously”, has defended the integrity of the authority’s street lighting.

He told the Press and Journal: “Our data would not bear out the perception that our street lighting is not adequate.

“All lighting installations within Aberdeen City are designed and installed in accordance with the current British Standards and Institution of Lighting Professionals guidance.

“The lighting required in residential, business or leisure areas of the city are assessed in accordance with these standards and in conjunction with the City’s Roads Hierarchy structure.”

Almost half of survey participants (49.9%) don’t think Aberdeen’s CCTV camera coverage is adequate. Image: Kami Thomson/DC Thomson

The Press and Journal’s Aberdeen safety survey findings paint a picture of the city that many people, women in particular, find unsafe and threatening.

Around three-quarters of respondents (74.7%) – 82.7% female, 59.3% male – said they don’t feel safe while out in the city alone at night and drunken behaviour appeared to be the biggest concern.

A staggering 90% of women feel that simply being a woman affects their personal safety in Aberdeen, compared with just over a quarter of men (27.3%).

The city centre was highlighted as the place where you’d most likely encounter trouble.

Around four in 10 (40.9%) have been followed or stalked, with a similar number of 137 people being on the receiving end of unwelcome touching (40.7%).

Almost three-quarters (74.3%) – 81.5% female, 60% male – said they feel “not very safe” or “not at all safe” when alone at night “on or waiting for public transport/taxis”.

When respondents were asked what factors contribute to them feeling unsafe when out and about in Aberdeen city, 68.7% – 72.4% female, 64.3% male – replied with “poor street lighting”.

CCTV camera coverage not adequate

And almost half of survey participants (49.9%), when asked if Aberdeen’s CCTV camera coverage was adequate, also disagreed.

And 56% of males and 41 % of females said CCTV does not make them feel safe.

One woman, who chose to remain anonymous, said she had previously relied on police gathering potential evidence from a venue’s surveillance cameras.

But there was “no action taken” following the alleged incident.

She explained: “They didn’t contact the venue for possible CCTV evidence until seven weeks after the incident. By that point, it was gone”.

Police Scotland has responded to the concerns raised about Aberdeen’s network of CCTV cameras.

Superintendent Neil McDonald, of the north-east division, said: “Our nighttime economy weekend policing plans, supported by extensive public CCTV coverage, are tried and tested, providing the right resources to the right places at the right times.

“Furthermore, our high visibility Safer City Unit has the bespoke remit to address city centre quality of life issues with enforcement and disruption as a key focus.”

The results of the Press and Journal’s Aberdeen safety survey – which was carried out online by DC Thomson’s in-house Insight team between December 9 2022 and January 3 2023 and collected individual responses from 452 residents or regular visitors to Aberdeen – have sparked discussion and debate on social media.

Tee Guthrie posted on Facebook: “Doesn’t help when street lighting is so low, taxis are barely available, buses are unreliable and there’s no police presence in town anymore.”

Neil Robson commented: “The city centre is turning unsafe for both sexes these days.

“I’m nearly 60 and have enjoyed being out and about in town since my teens. It’s just these past few years that thinking about your safety is the greatest concern.

“Aberdeen’s gone from a very friendly place to enjoy a night out to dangerous.”

‘We want to do more to support women’

Police Scotland has pointed to data from its own ‘Your Police’ and ‘User Experience’ surveys which it said helps “improve and shape” the delivery of local policing.

Supt McDonald added: “Recent responses from communities in the North East highlighted that 70% of respondents were satisfied they received an appropriate response from the police.

“Police Scotland is committed to keeping everyone in our communities safe and there is a significant focus on tackling violence against women and girls and developing a strategy for the future.

“We have made progress but we want to do more to support the rights of women and girls to feel safe and we know how important the role of policing is in making this a reality.”

If you would like to discuss the findings of our survey or share your own experiences please email our reporter Bryan Rutherford at

Read more from our series


Words by Bryan Rutherford
Insight by DC Thomson IDA team
Data visualisations by Emma Morrice
Images by Kami Thomson
SEO by Jamie Cameron