CCTV – Does it Really Reduce Crime in Public Space?
For many years individuals have attempted to minimise the risk of crime or inappropriate behaviours utilising a number of security-related layers or zones of control. One common layer for introducing eyes on the street is CCTV.
The City of Melbourne and most other capital cities throughout Australia have installed extensive camera systems that relay images in real time to central control rooms manned by security staff. The rationale for CCTV has been firstly to deter and discourage offending types of behaviours and secondly, to identify and prosecute identified offenders captured within CCTV images.
A review of criminological evidence suggests reality can be quite different to perception. Succinctly, the evidence contained within the literature provides:
- the level of crime actually deterred by CCTV diminishes over time (Armitage 2002);
- there is a strong correlation between CCTV camera coverage and levels of crime (Farrington et al. 2007);
- CCTV value in apprehensions and prosecutions is negligible (McSmith 2008);
- CCTV is ineffective in many public situations i.e. when perpetrators are drunk and/or on illicit drugs (Armitage 2002) or where vision is impeded by vegetation, trees, etc (Cozens 2014);
- when used with adequate lighting and immediately available security guards CCTV can impact upon levels of crime in car parks (Welsh & Farrington 2008);
- untrained and poorly paid camera operators align with poor image capture or detection of crime (Cozens 2014); and
- crimes of violence usually involve a lack of impulse control which means CCTV cameras are unlikely to deter (Sutton 2010).
It must be remembered that CCTV can have some value but only when integrated with other security measures and strategies. For more information contact the ASIS International Victoria Australia Chapter Chair through this website - Dr Tony Zalewski