|You are in: Talking Point|
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.
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!
They may not deter crime in themselves, but they will certainly make it easier to ensure that criminals are convicted once they are caught!
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.
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.
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.
My car was broken into a week ago and the police haven't even collected the CCTV video yet.
In a friend's flat there was a dispute over who had not done their dishes. I suggested CCTV installation to solve the problem.
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.
There is no point in having CCTV if our justice system cannot deal with the offenders caught with it.
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.
Chris Gawor, UK
I doubt CCTV deters crime but it is an invaluable tool in identifying criminals. The Bulger case is a prime example.
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!
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?
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.
28 Jun 02 | UK
28 Jun 02 | England
07 Feb 02 | Science/Nature
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites
Top Talking Point stories now:
Links to more Talking Point stories are at the foot of the page.
|E-mail this story to a friend|
Links to more Talking Point stories
To BBC Sport>> | To BBC Weather>> | To BBC World Service>>
© MMIII | News Sources | Privacy