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Is CCTV effective in tackling crime?

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Introduction The general purpose of the CCTV is to prevent and reduce crime. In theory, this happens because of one or more of these reasons: 1. Deterrence: potential burglars and thieves may see the camera and decide that a store in question is too much of a risk and therefore not a good target. 2. Prosecution: thieves and shoplifters may be caught on camera and this can help catch and prosecute them. 3. Fear reduction: if everyone knows that there is a camera, they may feel safer in or around your business, thus preventing potential criminals from attacking. 4. Monitoring and intervention: if there is a security guard monitoring the area through CCTV system, he or she may act on any suspicious behavior and thus prevent a crime from occurring. Security guards may also deploy employees to a suspicious spot or near a person detected on the monitors. Is CCTV effective in tackling crime? A Home Office review of research found that CCTV was effective in tackling vehicle crime in car parks but had limited effect on other crimes and in other locations. Improved street lighting recorded better results in a parallel study. ...read more.


Such is the appeal of CCTV that the Home Office made �153 million available between 1999 and March 2002 for allocation towards the funding of CCTV schemes (Home Office, 2000). What types of crime? Evaluation indicates surveillance cameras can limit certain types of crime, in particular locations. For example, CCTV cameras work more for property crime than for personal crime. They have been most effective in the following circumstances: 1. Dealing with crimes of dishonesty (theft, burglary/break and enter); 2. Reducing motor vehicle crime; 3. Increasing feelings of safety and security; and 4. In city/town centres where the geographical layout of the town centre is simple and where the extent of camera coverage is high; and when the cameras are linked to a rapid police response. This is obtained by ensuring that information can pass swiftly from CCTV operators to officers on the ground and vice versa. Most arrests are made when the system is used to coordinate timely responses to incidents as they occur. Effectiveness peaks when there is a high level of local publicity about video-assisted arrests. Attempting to use recorded information to identify suspects retrospectively is more time consuming and less effective. ...read more.


5) The potential perpetrator engages in a calculation, in which s/he weighs the potential gains and against the following motivations: a) not to have their crime detected b) not to be identified c) not to be apprehended. 6) The potential perpetrator concludes, as a result of this recalculation, that not having their crime detected, not being identified, not being apprehended or any combination outweighs the potential gains associated with going ahead and committing the crime anyway. 7) The potential perpetrator, in the face of this conclusion, makes the decision not to commit a crime. 8) The potential perpetrator abides by this decision. The submerged assumption is that the potential perpetrator is actually in control or him or herself to the degree that s/he is capable of obeying reason rather than impulse. To the extent that the assumptions or expectations do not obtain with respect to particular potential perpetrator, we can expect the probabilities to decline proportionally. Conclusion In the UK, the extent of CCTV coverage increased dramatically over the last decade and this despite the lack of substantive research evidence to suggest that CCTV works. What accounts for such an expansion? Critics of CCTV declaim the proliferation as the consequence of a combination of political expediency and the 'apparent' (as opposed to actual) efficacy of CCTV systems as crime prevention tools. ...read more.

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