August 28, 2017 at 10:39 am

Do CCTV Cameras Reduce Crime?

There is a lot of heated debate on whether CCTV cameras are truly effective in preventing crime across the globe. Indeed, CCTV technology has spread like wildfire through the Western world in the current decade. There are between 4 million and 5.9 million CCTV surveillance cameras in Britain alone, and the crime is far from gone from our streets.

CCTV Cameras Reduce Crime

It turned out that the effectiveness of public CCTV depends on many factors, such as location, the presence of police in addition to cameras, or whether the cameras were recording non-stop or not. A systematic review sponsored by the Campbell Collaboration found that video surveillance systems gave best results in parking lots, with a 51 percent decrease in crimes. Also, the presence of CCTV resulted in a 23 percent decrease in crime on public transportation. In other public settings however, CCTV yielded a minor or no decrease in crime.

Some civil rights organizations, worried about privacy and spending of public money, used the results to disprove that CCTV cameras in public spaces are worth the money and the risks.

But the effectiveness of CCTV cameras in private spaces is a largely different matter, and the fact that they’re effective really can’t be debated.

What’s the difference? Why can’t the same standards be applied in public and private spaces?

CCTV in private spaces

The data about effectiveness of CCTV in public spaces can be misleading to a private home or business owner trying to decide whether investing in a security camera system is really worth the money.

One thing needs to be pointed out – there is a huge psychological difference in crime that happens in public space and the crime committed on a private property, directed at personal belongings. In public space, perpetrators are aware that someone might be watching – whether a witness, a police officer or a camera lens. Therefore, if they decide to commit a crime, their inhibitions are lower from the start. That’s why CCTV cameras haven’t been effective as planned in preventing crime that happens in public.

But, when it comes to private residences and buildings, burglars try to make sure that no one would be watching. That’s why they usually pick less secured targets, and times when the residents are away. In these situations, every kind of attention serves as a deterrent.

And here’s where the effectiveness of CCTV cameras really stands out. If made aware of cameras, an average, opportunistic burglar would rather pick an easier target. One study conduced in the US shows that majority of burglars considered the presence of outdoor cameras and other surveillance equipment when choosing a potential target. Around 60 percent of burglars interviewed during their prison time stated they would consider the presence of cameras, and more than 40 percent said that camera presence would make them choose another target. There is also what is called the “halo effect”, a phenomenon in which a large presence of security cameras in an area displaces antisocial behavior to other, less secured neighborhoods.

That’s how CCTV security systems go beyond their initial purpose – to record what has been happening around them – and enter the area of crime prevention.

Security experts and camera owners alike agree that mere existence of CCTV cameras is able to put off potential invaders since – of course – they don’t want to be caught.

How to make your CCTV cameras even more efficient at preventing crime

All available expert opinion show that CCTV cameras are one of the most effective means of securing your property and discouraging criminal activity, and therefore a security investment worth your money.  Of course, nothing is perfect, and no security system offers 100% protection against crime. Fortunately, there are things you can do to make the CCTV camera system of your choice even more effective.

Clever combination with other security systems such as alarms, making sure that cameras are visible to an outsider, and a visible warning that area is being monitored are all ways to boost your security system’s efficiency and make troublemakers go elsewhere.

And don’t relax too much. Though cameras do give you a more sense of security, don’t forget to apply common-sense preventive measures, such as locking your doors and not leaving your windows open when you’re not at home.

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