Video Surveillance Cameras Greater Value Term Paper

  • Length: 10 pages
  • Sources: 20
  • Subject: Criminal Justice
  • Type: Term Paper
  • Paper: #31769442

Excerpt from Term Paper :

These changes were accompanied by publicity in the treatment areas. No significant changes in robberies were found. The National Association of Convenience Stores (1991) reported on two other interventions evaluated by Robert Figlio. The use of interactive CCTV (allowing communication between the clerk and the personnel in a remote location) reduced robberies in 189 stores by a statistically significant 31% in the first year following the installations. By the second year, the reduction had shrunk to 15%, which was not statistically significant. No control stores were used in the analysis. One chain of 81 stores installed color video monitors that were visible to patrons and staff. Robbery rates were reported to have declined by 53% a year after installation. Again, no control stores were used. (Eck, 2002, p. 256)

The statistics of this review show clearly that robbery reduction only occurred in certain conditions and that the reduction of such events did not always last, after the cameras became a fixed aspect of the known security measures in place. The following study, regarding a different type of business also shows the same trend of reduction of crime only for a short period after installation and more importantly shows that the more intensive the system and the more personal interaction that was seen between staff and technology and staff and patrons the more effective the equipment was.

British fashion retail chain studied three levels of CCTV to curb shoplifting (Beck and Willis, 1999). In three stores, high-level CCTV was used - multiple cameras, full-time watching by staff, monitors at all public entrances and recording capability. Six stores received a medium-level system - similar number of cameras watched by the store manager as time permitted, monitors at public entrances and recording capability. Six other stores received a low-level system - up to twelve of the cameras were dummies, monitors at all public entrances, but no capability to record. We can treat the low-level stores as controls and the other two types of stores as forms of treatment. Theft reduction was measured by inventory counts before installation and at 3- and 6-month intervals following installation. After 3 months, the number of items lost per week had declined by 40%, 17%, and 20% for the high-, medium- and low-level stores, respectively. After 6 months, the number of items lost per week had declined by 26% for the high-level store, but increased by 32% and 9% for the medium- and low-level stores, respectively (Beck and Willis, 1999). These results suggest that CCTV may curb retail theft, but staff monitoring may be critical to its success. (Eck, 2002, p. 259)

The results of these surveys indicate that the highest level systems are the most effective, but again do not discuss the role of such equipment in investigation. The following opening to an article associated with the effectiveness of surveillance, does not separate the prevention information from the utilization of video evidence as an investigative tool. The example is in fact resolute on the fact that though this individual crime did occur, the video was used not to stop it but as an alarm of its occurrence and as an investigative tool that ensured conviction of the perpetrator.

Malcolm Smith and David Lee, strangers until earlier that afternoon, descended into an underground walkway one evening in May 1993, shortly after leaving an English pub. Once out of public view, Lee grabbed Smith and threw him to the ground. Raining blows with his fists and feet, Lee knocked Smith unconscious, then began frantically searching for his wallet. Unbeknownst to Lee, the scene was being recorded by the powerful eye of a surveillance camera. Police responded quickly, racing to the scene and tackling Lee before he could escape with Smith's money. It took just two-and-a-half minutes from the start of the offense to the time of the arrest. Lee was convicted of assault and sent to prison for three months. (Poole & Williams, 1996, p. 28)

The point of this one anecdotal piece is that through such example sin police records a researcher should be able to demonstrate the effective use of video surveillance as an investigative tool. The prevention aspect of this scene is associated with the ability of the early response, which did not eliminate the risk to the victim but did eliminate the risk of escalation to a more serious crime and for at least three months prevented the perpetrator from victimizing anyone else in this or another manner. In fact in many cases the development of surveillance systems includes a level of secrecy, in that the idea of surveillance is eliminated from the mind of the criminal, as the surveillance is hidden from him or her, therefore eliminating the possibility that the criminal might not offend, at least in this location, because they are aware of the camera, watching them. It would seem difficult for those who put such cameras in place to claim that the surveillance was developed to deter crime but rather was designed to catch it happening and offer enforcement officers a greater chance of stopping it while it is happening and if not a better chance at obtaining the information needed for apprehension and conviction of the criminals involved. "There has been a surge in the number of surveillance cameras in Washington D.C. In the last year. In most cases, cameras are hidden from view or disguised so as to be undetected by those passing by the camera's gaze. (EPIC, Sept, 5 2007, p.1) Nieto demonstrates in his research that there is a certain amount of deterrence of crime, in some areas and types, premeditated crimes are reduced, while heated crimes such as assault, battery and murder are less likely to be deterred by cameras. He states that the greatest effects of camera usage are in offering enforcement the opportunity of information that allows apprehension and conviction of criminals. CCTV, he states; "is helpful in prosecuting individuals caught in the act of committing a crime." (Nieto, June 1997, pp. 2-3) Armitage clearly describes the evaluation of CCTV as largely unscientific but also states that earlyu regional research has determined that the use of CCTV has mixed results as a crime reducing tool and at best may involve a 3-5% reduction in crime, effecting premeditated, property crimes (like car theft) more frequently than personal assault crimes or burglaries.


The current state of camera surveillance systems indicates that surveillance cameras are more effective as an investigation tool than as deterrence to crime. Alternative hypotheses: That camera surveillance systems are equally effective for both deterrence and investigation, or that camera surveillance systems are more effective as deterrence tools than for investigative purposes.

Research Design


The research associated with this work will take place in a review of police records, over time. New York City central park and subway video recording systems will be reviewed, through flagging all police records that are associated with these areas. Crimes discussed will be crimes against both property and person. All police records for the recognized region (covered by video surveillance) that include the crimes of vandalism, car theft, car burglary,(where cars are present) robbery, battery, assault, rape and murder will be reviewed. Those where video surveillance played a role in resolution will be separated from those that were reported and investigated without the utilization of video evidence, such as in cases where video evidence did not prove useful, was not recorded, or when the crime occurred in an area not under surveillance. Conviction rates will be utilized as the determining factor between the two subsets of records and apprehension rates will be looked at secondarily as will crime facts statistics. Crime facts statistics includes known information about the crime, if the victim believes he or she can identify the perpetrator, if the perpetrator is known or not known to the victim, what crime(s) occurred, what time crime occurred, where crime occurred, when assistance was called for (if it was) and how long the response time was. All results that indicate the perpetrator is known to the victim will be considered only if the victim cannot provide an adequate description including name and adequate physical description. In those cases where the perpetrator is known to the victim and the individual can provide identifying details the crime will be removed from the data set. The control group will then be all crimes that occur and are investigated without known video evidence while the test group will be those crimes (likely a smaller subset) where investigation is benefited by video evidence

Independent Variables

The independent variables of this work is the video surveillance and the crime statistics associated with the video footage of the crime or surrounding the occurrence of the crime.

Dependant Variables

Dependant variables are the crime itself, the record of the crime including police reports and trial records where they exist, excluding information gleaned from video surveillance, as this information is included as independent variable information.

Data Collection Method

The researcher will…

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