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Tuesday, 2 July, 2002, 09:38 GMT 10:38 UK
CCTV: Does it deter crime?
A new report has said that closed circuit TV cameras have limited impact in the fight against crime.

The National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders (Nacro) revealed that Home Office statistics show crime fell in 13 of the 24 cases studied after CCTV cameras were installed but crime rates rose significantly in four others.

The findings were published on Friday as Home Office Minister Lord Falconer unveiled a new CCTV system in Manchester.

The 3m operation uses digital technology to cover the whole of the city centre with 400 cameras.

Lord Falconer has said that he believes that such systems will help in the battle against street crime.

Do you think that CCTV is an effective tool in controlling crime? Or do you feel that its benefits are overstated?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

Crime has moved to fringe areas not covered by CCTV

John, UK
All that has happened in my city, since the introduction of CCTV in the centre is that the crime has moved to the fringes and areas not covered by CCTV. It has not reduced crime.
John, UK

I think that CCTV will only be an aid to deterring and catching criminals. There is no substitute for a police presence pounding the beat on the streets. The culture of 'if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear' is ridiculous because I feel that we all have a right to privacy, and being filmed at every street corner in every city in the UK is hardly ever going to reduce crime figures.

Where I live, I have two huge CCTV posts located right next to my house. I have one just yards from my bathroom, and the other yards from my bedroom. These were installed by the local council and I didn't mind them being put up because I assumed it would cut down and prevent crime. However, several months later they seem to be largely ineffective. A major example to highlight the CCTV failure is that there is still heroin and crack cocaine dealing going on literally in front of the camera's eye! CCTV is no real prevention against crime, because thugs just see it almost as a provocation - they are also acutely aware that the chances of the police actually coming out and arresting them are nil anyway!
Lydia, UK

CCTV cameras are no substitute for a stronger police presence on the streets

Daniel, UK
CCTV cameras are no substitute for a stronger police presence on the streets, but they can be effective in identifying culprits and are probably a useful secondary deterrent to criminals. The main problem however, is simply that young violent offenders are shown too much leniency by the courts rather than being locked up where they deserve to be.
Daniel, UK

They may not deter crime in themselves, but they will certainly make it easier to ensure that criminals are convicted once they are caught!
Jonathan, London, UK

The so-called failure of CCTV can often be traced back to unrealistic expectations and poor planning. Your objectives in planning a CCTV system will to a large extent dictate the design. Do you want to eliminate a crime hot-spot or reduce crime in a broader area? Do you want to catch criminals in the act or deter them before they commit a crime? Or perhaps you simply want video evidence to help solve crimes after the fact? Sadly, in too many instances, the objectives are poorly defined, leading almost inevitably to disappointment.
Tom Reeve, UK

Nothing is more frightening to a criminal than the thought of being caught and going to jail, so if CCTVs make him or her think twice before they go ahead and commit the crime I think it's worth it and a step in the right direction for winning back public confidence.
M Khan, UK

I can't comment on the cost to benefit ratio and I can see how the impact CCTV makes on preventing crime (other than as a deterrent) may be seen as limited. But surely CCTV is an invaluable tool when a case reaches court. Good quality recorded evidence of the crime taking place is pretty damning evidence.
John, England

My car was broken into a week ago and the police haven't even collected the CCTV video yet.
Peter, UK

In a friend's flat there was a dispute over who had not done their dishes. I suggested CCTV installation to solve the problem.
Andreas, Greece

Should he not be asking why people commit street crime in the first place?

Phil, UK
Does Lord Falconer honestly believe that a few cameras will reduce crime to a significant effect? Should he not be asking why people commit street crime in the first place, rather than attempting to justify the wholesale spying on the population?
Phil, UK

Cameras in conjunction with more police on the streets will help deter crime. Cameras have recently been installed in my town centre and I have noticed a marked reduction in vandalism and young drunks.
Jaime, UK

There is no point in having CCTV if our justice system cannot deal with the offenders caught with it.
Steve H, UK

Police can now see what is going on

Rod, England, UK
As an ex-employee of a company that made CCTV control systems, I may have a biased view but it seems to me that well positioned CCTV cameras can see much more than the average bobby on the beat. Being able to spot somebody committing a crime but more to the point, being able to watch where they go after they think they've got away with it, is something you can't always do from ground level. Some of the reports suggest crime has increased when cameras are introduced. In some cases this is because the Police can now see what is going on and have been made aware of criminal activity that was previously unknown.
Rod, England, UK

In my town, the centre is covered by CCTV, but there is a lot of vandalism and petty crime in the surrounding neighbourhoods which are not covered by cameras. I would like to see a police officer walking around these areas at least once a week. Physical presence is a better deterrent than an eye in the sky.
Toby, UK

They do not fear CCTV

Chris Gawor, UK
Much of the recent talked about increases in crime are a direct result of an increase in hard drug addiction in the UK particularly crack cocaine use. I have witnessed countless vehicles being broken into outside of my home in north London. According to the local police the perpetrators of these crimes are crack addicts. The individuals that break into these cars do so in broad daylight and in front of several witnesses. They do not fear CCTV or witnesses because they are very desperate people in need of their next fix and will do anything to satisfy their addiction.
Chris Gawor, UK

I doubt CCTV deters crime but it is an invaluable tool in identifying criminals. The Bulger case is a prime example.
Oliver Richardson, UK

Get the police out of their patrol cars and back on the streets

Fred, England
Cameras do not prevent crime; they just help in convicting people. The only thing that prevents crime is a visible police presence, something that is sadly lacking. Get the police out of their patrol cars and back on the streets.
Fred, England

I suspect it deters the criminals who are bright enough to realise that they will be caught (and are worried enough about the consequences). Legislate for a minimum standard of CCTV so that we no longer end up with poor grainy pictures of people that no-one can recognise too! ... and when you do catch people, make the punishment sufficient to discourage them (and their friends) from trying it again!
Andy GM Wood, London, UK

I agree with Edwin, there is far too much money being spent on surveillance and not enough on regular policing. How did New York Mayor Giuliani lower the crime rates? By putting more police on the streets. When are the tight-fisted politicians going to realise that CCTV is not a substitute?
Mike, Switzerland

CCTV cameras are clearly being used as a substitute for police on the beat. They are intrusive, counterproductive and offend civil liberties. If CCTV is so effective we should expect a decline in crime figures whereas we are actually seeing a steady increase.
Edwin, Britain

See also:

28 Jun 02 | UK
28 Jun 02 | England
07 Feb 02 | Science/Nature
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