Effectiveness of CCTV in Crime Prevention

Essay, 2012

5 Pages, Grade: A



Closed-circuit television utilizes video cameras in surveillance of a particular area using a limited number of surveillance monitors. Almost all video cameras fit in the usage as the CCTV cameras, although the ones used must have high definition for accuracy in monitoring mainly in banks, supermarkets, casinos, airports, military institutions, and convenience stores. In most cases, the cameras function in deterring crime from occurrence and minimizing the levels in places where it cannot stop completely. According to Jewitt (2007), in many parts of America, Europe, and Asia, CCTV surveillance proved one of the best ways of crime prevention as the criminal cases decreased proportionately as more of the cameras came into existence. However, the comfort from their use lasted no long s the people soon went back to the old ways. Old crimes started to resurface thus a good number of people began to lose faith in the cameras. This paper evaluates how effectively CCTV can help deal with the criminal cases with the goal of determining the relevance and benefits of their application and use.

On one front, CCTV does a great job in prevention and reduction of the criminal activities committed throughout the economy. However, paradoxically, there are factors that reduce the effectiveness of the cameras. The surveillance prevents crime to high levels due to various factors. First, the cameras provide evidence of crime hence it deems easier to track the criminals (Murphy, 1999 p. 396). Previously, proving crimes presented some of the greatest challenges to the courts in many countries thus many criminals did not face any charges for their crimes, which encouraged more crimes. However, security surveillance changed the whole game and as long as they installed them on scene before the occurrence of the crime, evidence tracking deems more specific and reliable due to the unity of direction in investigations. In tests for their efficiency, the cameras reduced theft and general crimes in the casinos and the parking lots in the United Kingdom by over 51% thus they proved efficient in crime prevention. The few people attempting crime with the cameras find themselves in court with clear evidence of their acts and mostly get conviction.

Alarm notification is the best way that the CCTVs can function in prevention and reduction of crime. According to Guha (2002), in most of the stores where the surveillance security applies, the commodities or area covered deems specific and clear. The case withstanding, the security personnel can protect the main item or area of focus by connecting it to alarm notification in case of criminal moves. In this kind of protection, the activities and movements in a particular area must fit into a program from which deviation alerts the alarm. Items made of glass prove the best to secure using the automatic alarm connection because the breaking attempts fit into many alarm programs easily. Any attempt made to break the glass trickles the alarm hence the whole security detail gets the signal and action can follow faster. Using the automatic alarm notification prevents the crimes from occurrence by short intervals, although the protection cannot miss the attention of the security due to its attention demand and command.

The psychological effect of the presence of surveillance serves as the greatest step in crime reduction and prevention. CCTV protection serves to remind the people of their security measures that they would otherwise forget easily. Psychologically, people understand that a place under surveillance may deem insecure if the security did not exist. In such cases, people walking, working, or operating in the protected areas take more measures to protect their property thus the CCTV psychologically prevents crime by influencing the potential victims. The potential criminals can also experience the psychological effect not to commit crime in places, which appear secured (Baum, 1997 p. 23). Robbery on moving trains in Brazil deemed so rampant before the trains started using the CCTVs because the criminals felt no pressure in executing the illegal activities towards the passengers. Immediately the CCTVs came to force, the cases disappeared. The criminals understand that any evidence beyond doubt of their activities may lead them to court (Harris et el, 1998 p. 160). Due to experiences, the criminals also understand that the CCTVs maximally provide any evidence of crime in the areas targeted. Psychologically, the criminals fear executing their activities as the authorities can easily catch them. CCTVs thus affect the criminals psychologically to stop their activities.

The first cause of crime occurs as the fear that the crime will actually occur among the people. Most of the people living in insecure areas believe that they may fall under attack any time and become the next victims of the criminal losses. The CCTVs eradicate the fear among the people in order to deter crime occurrence. Presence of the surveillance services assures the people that the surveyed areas deem more secure than the areas under no surveillance hence more people access the protected areas compared to the areas with no CCTV (Gips, 2006 p. 24). When the number of people in a particular place increases, the criminal activities actually decrease, as there are more witnesses in case any crime would occur. More so, targeting particular people when the crowd deems large cannot happen easily thus the CCTV presence only can deter crime.

The CCTVs receive unlimited praise for their proven prowess in crime prevention and protection although they do not function to maximum prevention. Deterring crime using the CCTVs may deem tricky due to several factors. First, the criminals could easily change their target. The cost of making sure that all the avenues for crime seal using surveillance cameras deems too high to undertake. When a particular areas attracts attention as prone too crime, security will likely beef up in the area and the next step likely falls to the CCTVs (Devine, 2006 p. 29). When the criminals observe the cameras from the one look of their installation, they can plan on new targets for their activities thus prove hard to track. The series of change in targets can go on changing for as long as the leadership appears determined to stop the criminals. Whenever the security agents cannot identify the exact place to put a trap for the criminals, catching up with them toughens. The criminals seem aware of the same fact thus they utilize it to the best that they can.

Strict observation of the monitors may become tough if the area under surveillance deems larger than expected. Some areas prove hard for the cameras and the observers to monitor and follow up easily. The toughness to observe and follow the areas appears due to the cat that the place has more cameras hence many screens’ observation must take place at the same time. When the area watched over appears big and complicated with many people, confusions and misinterpretation of activities can easily occur thus provide loopholes for occurrence of crime. A person can hibernate before one camera and go unnoticed because the monitors deem a little many. Misinterpretation of the signals sent from different points can also create loopholes for advanced crimes in the area.

Lack of independence in the CCTV system gives a huge loophole to the criminals in case the gang may come when organized. Guthrie (2001) infers that most of the criminals understand that the CCTVs function with electric power and that it takes them time to readjust after the lights go off. Consequently, an organized group of people with criminal intentions can easily undertake criminal activities and go unnoticed if they tamper with the power line first. The transfer of the video signals from the high definition cameras to the monitor screens occurs through signals sent through straight transmissions. Due to advances in technology, the criminals can easily hack into the signals and tamper with them to facilitate their criminal activities (Duguid, 2006 p. 69).

CCTV helps in monitoring and not the actual eradication of crimes. According to Guha (2002), most of the people wonder about those who commit intentional crimes publicly. Some people know the repercussions of the activities they engage in, especially the criminal activities yet they still go ahead and do them. The CCTVs provide evidence that the people actually committed the crimes but do not deter them from the same. In fact, the people may get motivation to do more damage because they know that they get into the trap anyway. In this regard, as much as the surveillance creates a feeling of security in a particular area, some crimes go beyond the mere ability of surveillance thus the security agents cannot fall back and resign to the CCTVs. In advanced cases especially with the alarm-programmed CCTVs, some activities do not deem criminal to the CCTVs apart from the programmed crimes. People can thus commit unique mistakes and crimes and still get away with them because the crimes do not show in the CCTV cameras (Wilner, 2005).

At the face of it, CCTV appears as one of the most effective ways to prevent occurrence of crimes. People with plans to undertake criminal activities cannot go ahead because they can appear on the monitoring screens and face trial. Evidence deems circumstantial and accurate when the CCTVs function in security. Crimes can also reduce due to the feeling of security among the people that eradicates fear thus CCTVs yield more results that are positive. However, the CCTV security can yield enormous setbacks especially where they do not have sufficient monitoring. Consequently, the CCTVs show the best protection and security beef although they should not function to replace but rather to supplement the existing security systems.

Reference list

Devine, J. 2006, CCTV has put crime at an all-time low on Slough Trading Estate, London (UK), United Kingdom, London (UK).

Baum, C. 1997, "CCTV in public places", Security, vol. 34, no. 1, pp. 22-24.

Duguid, S. 2006, Crime watch Drug-dealers, drunks, potential terrorists: these are essential viewing for the staff at Westminster's CCTV centre. Sarah Duguid joins them at the screens and is unnerved by just how much they can see, London (UK), United Kingdom, London (UK).

Fay, S.J. 1998, "Tough on crime, tough on civil liberties: Some negative aspects of Britain's wholesale adoption of CCTV surveillance during the 1990's", International Review of Law, Computers & Technology, vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 315-347.

Gips, M.A. 2006, "Focus on CCTV's Value", Security Management, vol. 50, no. 8, pp. 24-24.

Guha, K. 2002, CCTV 'is not as effective as street lighting in cutting crime', London (UK), United Kingdom, London (UK).

Guthrie, J. 2001, CCTV cameras to put rogues gallery in focus CRIME POLICE TEST US SOFTWARE:, London (UK), United Kingdom, London (UK).

Gips, M.A. 1999, "Effectiveness of CCTV questioned", Security Management, vol. 43, no. 10, pp. 19-19

Harris, C., Jones, P., Hillier, D. & Turner, D. 1998, "CCTV surveillance systems in town and city centre management", Property Management, vol. 16, no. 3, pp. 160-160.

Jewitt, C. 2007, CCTV network overhaul in bid to cut crime, Darlington (UK), United Kingdom, Darlington (UK).

Murphy, T. 1999, "The admissibility of CCTV evidence in criminal proceedings", International Review of Law, Computers & Technology, vol. 13, no. 3, pp. 383-404.

Wilner, T. 2005, CCTV systems failed to cut crime, says study, Haymarket Business Publications Ltd, London, United Kingdom, London.


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Effectiveness of CCTV in Crime Prevention
University of Cambridge
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effectiveness, cctv, crime, prevention
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Peterson Kelly (Author), 2012, Effectiveness of CCTV in Crime Prevention, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/280648


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