Key Findings Summary
- The expectation that CCTV systems should be deployed to reduce crime rather than solve crime has created huge problems.
- While the studies show serious doubt on CCTV's ability to reduce crime generally, a strong consensus exists in CCTV's ability to reduce premeditative/property crime
- CCTV is consistently treated as a singular, stable technology, obscuring radical technological changes that have occurred in the last 10 years
- Differences in per camera costs are largely ignored, preventing policy makers from finding ways to reduce costs
- Routine comparison of police vs cameras is counterproductive
Practical Recommendations Summary
- Stop claiming that CCTV can generally reduce crime
- Optimize future public CCTV projects around crime solving rather than crime reduction
- Optimize future public CCTV projects around material and premeditative crimes
- Target technologies that support crime solving and material/premeditative crimes
- Focus on minimizing cost per camera
There's a lot more dialogue about whether to deploy surveillance cameras, and where, than about how to use them to achieve specific goals.
People either want cameras because they want reduced crime (as we see above, unrealistic except in the systemic, longterm sense that more criminals will be caught and therefore taken off the streets) or they don't want them because they feel watched (most civic cameras are unmonitored, their recorded video is used exclusively as post-crime forensic tools).
Looking at new ways to monitor based on alarms or review of recorded video samples will be important going forward. In the same way business are using surveillance video to improve customer experience (read: revenue), law enforcement authorities should use recorded video to better understand patterns of crime and the activities that precede them and can be identified as signals that can be the basis of preventive actions.