The Growth of CCTV Use in the Private Sector More popular than ever before, the use of CCTV within businesses and private residences to secure property and deter crime has skyrocketed over the past decade and continues to do so. Pauline Nostrom of the British Security Industry Association (BSIA) recently stated: “the number of private cameras currently used in the UK outnumber public sector cameras 70 to 1”.
There are many reasons for the soaring popularity of CCTV, one of which being the affordable price of camera equipment. Another big reason is that the police are keen to encourage the use of CCTV. In 2015 Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe head of London’s Metropolitan Police stated that “more homeowners should install CCTV cameras outside their houses’. He further added that homeowners and businesses could help police to solve crimes and encouraged people to install cameras at eye level so that criminals could be identified.
London-riotsA golden moment for CCTV was during the London riots of 2011 where police viewed over 200,000 hours of footage to go on to find over 5000 offenders. Offenders that may not have been prosecuted if it was not for CCTV. British psychologist Gordon Trasler has recently pointed out to the BBC that “CCTV is effective for “instrumental” offenses (such as property crime or robbery) but not so effective for “expressive” offenses like a violent crime when behavior is impulsive and there is no time for rational decision-making”. However, it was also mentioned in the BBC report that in 2009 95% of Scotland Yard murder cases used CCTV footage as evidence.
It seems with the funding for general policing and the monitoring of public CCTV around the UK being cut dramatically in recent government austerity measures, the public is taking it upon themselves to protect themselves and their property. Thames Valley Police could reduce their CCTV budget from £225,000 to as little as £50,000 in 2018. The national policing lead for CCTV Assistant Chief Constable Mark Bates highlighted the important part cameras play in protecting communities and stated to the BBC “We have a real responsibility to think carefully before making any decisions to dis-invest in CCTV as a result of austerity challenges.”
How well do CCTV cameras work to deter crime? car crime v2Many individual studies into the social and psychological effects of CCTV have taken place since the rise of the surveillance camera in the 1980’s, many of which were inconclusive to its effectiveness against crime.
More recent studies carried out by organizations such as the Campbell Collaboration and registered criminal justice charity NACRO have come to similar conclusions. They both agree that CCTV has had a modest but significant impact on crime rates. In particular, CCTV has been most effective in reducing vehicle crime and theft. Crime has decreased by 51% in car parks using CCTV surveillance. CCTV has also led to greater reductions in crime in the UK compared to other countries. Naturally, findings also suggest that CCTV works best with other forms of security such as improved street lighting, prominent alarm systems, and secure fencing.