Tuesday, July 8, 2008

CCTV's Effectiveness Called Into Question

A recently published study calls into question the effectiveness of CCTV as a crime prevention tool.
  • [CCTV had no] statistically significant effect in reducing the overall monthly crime rates within the target areas
  • CCTV had no statistically significant effect on monthly arrest rates for misdemeanor “quality of life” infractions in either [of the target areas]
"These differences between the apparent ineffectiveness of cameras to deter violent crimes, by comparison to their apparent success in deterring property crimes, may relate back to the underlying theory that some crimes, such as property-related offenses like larceny, are often opportunistic (Fabrikant 1979). In contrast, many violent crimes may be motivated by passions that make individuals less rational, more impulsive, and therefore less influenced by the risk of detection or apprehension."

“There is a constant tug-of-war between resources. Do we put another cop on the street or get another camera in place?” (Interview, Farrell March 27, 2008). Farrell further explained that even when criminal activity is detected on the CCTV system, it is not always possible to mobilize units quickly enough to respond if there are other, higher priority calls for service. Moreover, in Hollywood, the cameras are not routinely monitored during the day, and when they are monitored, there is generally one officer monitoring footage from 14 cameras; therefore, it is likely that there are criminals who have had the experience of “getting away” with crime in the monitored areas and may no longer feel deterred by the cameras."

"Policymakers considering video surveillance of public places by law enforcement should not presume that crime reduction or prevention will occur automatically — or at all."

"Law enforcement that does not have the resources to respond to crime and enforce laws, such as certain types of property crimes and minor offenses where cameras are located, may lead to the belief by criminals that some crimes are inconsequential. Following the “broken windows” theory of policing, criminals may eventually believe that they can commit more serious crimes in the absence of consequences, nullifying any deterrent effect the cameras may have."

Many thanks to Doktor Jon for the heads up on this publication. The tide may be turning against the "Carpet Bombing" of CCTV in cities. If you are going to arguing for more cameras, it may help to read this report. The opposition surely has.

No comments: