Closed Circuit Television Closed Circuit Television Cameras (CCTV) are now widely seen as crucial tools in preventing crime and ensuring security (Gill and Spriggs, 2005:1). The cameras record images that are sent to a “monitor- recording device” for watching, reviewing and storage (ibid). CCTV is a “situational” technique which allows people to be remotely observed, thereby making it possible for law enforcement agents to effectively attend to distress calls (ibid). The use of CCTV as a situational crime prevention technique has increased over the years, with the number of cameras in the UK increasing from 100 in 1990 to 5,234 in 1994 (Armitage, 2002). According to Norris et al (2002:110), the number of CCTV cameras currently in use in the UK is estimated at 4.2m reflecting about 1 for every 14 of the population. Also, to reflect the growth experienced in the use of CCTV’s in the UK is the increase in the amount of money being spent which increased from £100m in 1990 to £381m in 1998 and an estimation of £1.1billion by 2008 (ibid). According to Ditton 2000:692, the increase in the number of CCTV’s currently in use may be attributed to the perceived idea that CCTV helps in reducing the “fear of crime” and “crime” itself. The closed circuit television system serves many functions and is used in both public and private settings although, it might also been seen as increasing recorded crime or displacing crime. However the increase in crime may be due to the effectiveness of the CCTV in detecting crimes that could otherwise have gone unnoticed. Also, the displacement of crime to areas without CCTV’s reveals it actually reduces crime and more CCTV’s are needed. This essay will argue that although the use of CCTV in public places could potentially jeopardize privacy, it has been highly effective in providing security by reducing the rate and fear of crime. Firstly, the aims of the CCTV will be discussed, followed by an analysis on the impact of CCTV on security. Also, the effect of CCTV on privacy will be analysed and finally a conclusion on the effectiveness of CCTV.
The aims of CCTV as a situational crime technique measure will be analyzed. The main uses of the CCTV are for preventing personal and property crimes of all types such as assault and vehicle vandalization (Welsh and Farrington, 2007:194). The CCTV aims to prevent these crimes through crime determent, crime detection and efficient use of security officers (Armitage, 2002). The presence of a CCTV at a location could lead to the determent of crime, as the culprit could decide to not commit the crime due to the presence of the CCTV, or go elsewhere to do so. Also, the CCTV might detect crime through the recorded images captured by the camera, which may then be used in arresting the culprit. In addition, the use of CCTV may lead to the efficient use of security officers who will only be called to the scene of crime if necessary (ibid). Therefore, the main aims of the CCTV boost its use as a situational crime prevention technique. Firstly, CCTV can be seen as an effective form of reducing the rate of crime thereby, improving security. The use of CCTV might be effective in the reduction of property crime. According to Welsh and Farrington (2007:204), the presence of CCTV results in a general reduction in crime and is most effective in the reduction of property crimes such as car damage. In a study conducted from the evaluation of twenty-four CCTV’s in England, Scotland and the United States of locations such as “car parks, public housing and city centers”, it was discovered that the rate of violent crime reduced by 3%, while vehicle crime reduced by 28% (ibid). Also, in a similar study conducted in Airdie, crimes related to property reduced by 19% after the installation of CCTV’s (Ditton and Short, 1999:206). Furthermore, a study conducted in Burnley city centre showed a reasonable reduction in property crime such as car damage and car theft within the area...
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