How effective are CCTV cameras as a proven crime control and prevention measure? Describe the crime control literature which attempts to assess their efficacy and evaluate the impact such studies have had on overall proliferation of these systems. Illustrate your answer by reference to both official reports and academic and NGO studies supporting or contradicting such claims.
This essay will aim to critically discuss CCTV cameras as a proven method of crime control and prevention tool. In order to analyse academic, official and Non Government Organisation (NGO) studies, it is important to consider the rise of CCTV. CCTV is the one of the fastest growing forms of surveillance and crime control in the UK. CCTV was gradually diffused throughout the retail and transport sectors to the public domain. In 1991 there were no more than ten cities with open street systems in operation; these systems were set up individuals on the basis of entrepreneurship. (Dutton and Short 1998) The tragic death of James Bulger brought the importance of CCTV into public spotlight, images of Bulger being led away by two boys were reoccurring on national news each day, in hope the perpetrators would eventually be caught. (Smith 1994) This therefore saw a publicised moral panic. The response was the increase of CCTV systems around the UK. Responding to this, the Home Secretary, Michael Howard, developed the ‘City Challenge Competition’. Two million pounds of government funding would be thrown at this new initiative. Government saw 480 applications, even with the budget increasing to 5 million, but only 106 applications were granted. (Cited in Norris et al 2004) The high demand for CCTV in the public realm saw the competition re-open between 1995 and 1998. This time £31 million of government funding and £54 million of partnership funding, (local businesses and European regeneration grants) was used to develop the scheme. 580 applications were granted. (Cited in Norris et al 2004) This therefore saw the 1990s crime prevention schemes being dominated by CCTV as a form of prevention. Welsh and Farrington claimed that three quarters of the government budget was allocated to the use of CCTV. (2005; 500) In 1999 Labour set aside £53 million in support of the CCTV expansion for England and Wales and £17 million for Scotland. Thus it is not unreasonable that Norris et al estimated a £250 million spend on CCTV in the 1990s. (2004) In contrast industry statistics show that in the early 1990s the total value of CCTV was £100 million and increased to £361 million in 1998. (Evans 1998; keynote, 2003:8) By 2002 market analysts reported that there was an annual growth between 14% - 18%. (Security Installer 2001, 2002) However more recent forecasts show that the growth has decreased to around 8% per annum. (Security Installer; 2004) Norris and Armstrong estimated that in an urban environment, a person could have their image captured on 300 CCTV cameras on 300 separate CCTV systems (1999;ch 3) They also estimate from a survey conducted in London, that there may be as many as 4.2 billion CCTV cameras in the UK. This equates to 1 camera per 14 members of the population. (McCahill and Norris; 2003, cited in Norris et al 2004) There has clearly been an expansion of CCTV worldwide, however Urbaneye found that 40% of institutions in London had cameras in a public domain, where as this figure was notably lower in Berlin. (21%) In Berlin there was a few as 15 open street systems in an accessible public space, however in London this was found to be a staggeringly higher amount. (500). The reformist ideals of the criminal justice system are beginning to focus on ideals such a ‘opportunity reduction’, ‘situation prevention’, and ‘risk management’ (C.F: Feely and Simon 1994) This is therefore leading CCTV to be the new penology for crime control. (Norris et al, 2004) There have been positive reports of crime reductions since the introduction of CCTV. Strathclyde police force...
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