Over the past few years, there has been a proliferation of closed circuit television (CCTV) installations especially at the town centres. Installation of CCTV cameras in public spaces has been driven by the urgency for crime prevention. CCTVs have been installed with the aim of deterring offending, bringing offenders to justice and providing reassurance to the public about their safety.However studies exploring on effectiveness of CCTV on crime prevention have produced mixed results. Some studies have attested to the effectiveness of CCTV in fighting crime while others have pointed out to the minimal or insignificant effect of CCTV on levels of offending. As such, the proposed dissertation seeks to clarify the nature of the relationship between CCTV and crime prevention.
This proposal lays out the approach that would be taken to address the objectives of the proposed dissertation. The proposal provides the theoretical framework, literature review and the methodology used to obtain the data. A multi-method spatial approach will be used to analyze the data collected. The proposal seeks to examine the effectiveness of CCTV in preventing and reducing crime in 3 London boroughs: London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, the Borough of Waverley and the Ipswich Borough Council. A combination of Hierarchical Linear Modeling (HLM) and Weighted Displacement Quotient (WDQ) will help in evaluating effectiveness of CCTV surveillance in preventing crimes in the 3 boroughs.Introduction
For much of 21st century, crime prevention has relied primarily on police patrol. However, foot patrol has historically been identified to have a small impact on preventing and reducing crime. Research has shown that police patrol and investigative resources of the police are, to a large extend, limited in preventing most of the crimes that have been taking place (Keval & Sasse 2008). Unfocused random patrols and reactive arrests by street patrols have generally had minimal impact on crime prevention.
Because of this, there has been an increasing emphasis on CCTV installations as a way of preventing crime. Many countries have installed CCTV cameras especially in the town centres. The UK leads with the most extensive CCTV coverage in the whole world (Philips 1999). The widespread installation of CCTV in UK has, in part, been the result of proactive initiatives by the central government, with most of the operations funded by the British Home Office (Philips 1999).
CCTV systems in the UK have been deployed in town centres, banks, shopping centres, parking facilities, building societies, industrial estates, schools and colleges, and police custody suites among many other areas. Aside from the central government, the European community, businesses and local authorities have also contributed to the financing of CCTV surveillance systems in the UK (Philips 1999).Problem statement
Over the past few years, there has been a proliferation of closed circuit television (CCTV) installations especially at the town centres (Philips 1999). Gone are the days when street patrols were the only means for fighting crime. CCTV has come up as a management tool for crime-solving and prevention. Installation of CCTV cameras in public spaces has been driven by the urgency for crime prevention. CCTVs have been installed with the aim of deterring offending, bringing offenders to justice and providing reassurance to the public about their safety.
It is estimated that UK economy loses approximately ?50 billion annually in crime (Cjsni 2008). But of course, the ‘true’ cost of crime in terms of the well-being of the general public and the quality of life are incalculable (Cjsni 2008). In what is currently known as an “evidence-led” crime reduction policy, governments have sought to develop scientific research basis for understanding “what works” and “what doesn’t” and “what’s promising” in crime reduction (Cjsni 2008). CCTVs have been identified as such important crime prevention tools.
But whilst CCTV appears to have gained increasing importance in crime prevention, issues of security in public places still remain a major concern, both at the national level and internationally. Despite significant investment in such crime deterrent technologies, risks associated with assault and property crime remains considerable (Wells et al. 2006). Therefore, this proposal seeks to examine the nature of the relationship between CCTV installation and crime prevention. It will examine the effectiveness of CCTV in preventing and reducing crime in 3 London boroughs: London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, the Borough of Waverley and the Ipswich Borough Council.Research objectives
This proposal seeks to address the following research objectives:To determine the nature of the relationship between CCTV installation and crime reduction To examine the extent of CCTV coverage and occurrence of crime by type and frequency in the 3 London To evaluate the effectiveness of CCTV in preventing or deterring crime To identify the current knowledge gaps with regard to the impact of CCTV in crime prevention. Literature review
Alongside the widespread installation of CCTVs in public places, there has been a wealth of information on the impact of CCTV on crime prevention. However, research on the nature of the relationship between CCTV and crime prevention have to date been ambiguous (Greenhalgh 2003). Some studies have attested to the effectiveness of CCTV in fighting crime while others have pointed out to the minimal or insignificant effect of CCTV on levels of offending.
Authors such as Tilley (1997) and Bennett & Gelsthorpe (1996) have suggested that CCTV deter people from committing crime, thereby reducing crime prevalence. These authors argued that CCTV facilitates effective deployment of police officers and security staff to locations of crime, thereby deterring offenders from committing crime. A study by Armitage et al. (1999) on the impact of CCTV installation on the level of crime in Burnley found that recorded crimes had fallen by 25% owing to the presence of CCTV surveillance.
A similar study by Brown (1995) which employed a rigorous methodology based upon the realistic evaluation model suggested by Pawson & Tilley (1994) found that the level of offending in Newcastle Upon Tyne had reduced owing to the introduction of CCTV. But whilst pointing out to the crime prevention effect of CCTV in Newcastle Upon Tyne, Brown cautioned that such gains could be short term and might wear off over time. Brown also cautioned about the possibility of displacement effects undermining the perceived advantages.
But whilst several authors have attested to the effectiveness of CCTV in fighting crime, most of the studies have had little scientific support for such claims. In this regard, Short & Ditton (1995) identified a number of problems with many of these claims. First, they noted that the time periods examined were generally too short to give an adequate account of the effectiveness of CCTV systems. Second, crime was considered as one category, obscuring the increases or reductions in different types of crime (Short & Ditton 1995).
Third, the authors noted that some cases lacked control rooms and as such, assessment of crime patterns was not accurate. Fourth, most of the assessments made did not take into account the seasonal variations in crime. Indeed there seems to be a number of concerns with many of these claims. What is even more surprising is that, most of these conclusions came from those who were responsible for the installation of CCTV systems.
Indeed, as suggested by Bulos & Sarno (1996), very few CCTV systems have been comprehensively evaluated by independent researchers (Bulos & Sarno 1996). Whilst there has been a huge support for the installation of CCTV in urban and town centres, it seems that hype will continue to achieve prominence over key questions that should be asked such as evaluating the usefulness and effectiveness of CCTV in preventing crime (Phillips 1999). It is important to provide evaluative evidence of crime reduction effects so as to justify future investment in CCTV schemes.
Several other authors have identified negative impacts of CCTV on crime prevention. Norris et al (1998) pointed out that CCTV control rooms were rife with prejudice and racism, inferring that the reported incidences were likely to be biased. A study by Brown (1995) on CCTV impact of crime on Birmingham found that the use of CCTV surveillance had failed to produce an overall reduction in the level of crime, with only a small decline in vehicle theft. A similar study conducted by Ditton et al (1999) in Glasgow showed that CCTV installation in the city centre had coincided with an upsurge in crime, with offences of indecency and dishonesty experiencing the most significant increase.
In a recent meta-analysis study by Welsh & Farrington (2002), it was found that out of thirteen evaluations in city centres, five of these showed decrease in offences whereas three showed an undesirable effect (increase in crime). In the other remaining five evaluations, there was no effect of CCTV on crime. In a further criticism, Groombridge & Murji (1994) suggested that CCTV could only be used as a tool and not a panacea.
But whilst Norris et al (1998) pointed out to the bias in CCTV control rooms, they emphasized the importance of CCTV in fighting crime and suggested for an ‘algorithmic’ surveillance to enable CCTV to effectively fight crime. Algorithmic CCTV surveillance matches a person’s gait and facial characteristics to images and footage stored in a database (Phillips 1999). ‘Algorithmic’ surveillance is particularly useful in revealing persons who are hiding from CCTV cameras.
Despite the presence of very few independent rigorous evaluations and despite diverse and differing interests between private, public and statutory agencies; CCTV is almost unanimously backed (Fussey 2004). The ubiquity of CCTV cameras in the town and urban centres is a testament to this. CCTV installation has taken place at a time when there has been improvement in crime analysis both in resolution (both temporal and spatial) (Mackay 2002). This has enabled practitioners focus to become more place-specific as opposed to generalizing crime to the neighbourhood level (Ratcliffe & Taniguchi 2008).Theoretical framework
Sociological and criminological theory
To understand the concept of CCTV surveillance and its role in the contemporary society, sociological and criminological theory will be useful. In particular, theorizations based around neo-Marxist and Foucauldian perspectives will be used. But, since this is not the primary objectives of this paper, such paradigmatic conceptualizations shall only be briefly discussed in this paper.
Neo-Marxist approach stress the use of CCTV to police economically marginalized groups (Fussey 2004). The role of CCTV in the contemporary society can be situated within a neo-Marxist framework that stresses the use of CCTV in policing unequal socio-economic divisions and managing the use of public space (Fussey 2004). Aware of the possibility that potential consumers may be deterred from commercial centres by the presence of low level incivilities such as beggars, litter, anti-social behaviours and gangs of youths; those representing commercial interests have sought to use CCTV surveillance to remove such undesirable factors (Fussey 2004: p.255). The ubiquity of CCTV cameras in the town centres is a testament to this.
The foucauldian notion takes the view that modernity has yielded a form of ‘disciplinary’ society in which individuals are continuously placed under surveillance to deter antisocial or deviant behaviours (Fussey 2004). The Foucauldian approach criticizes utopian Enlightement objectives, arguing that in the present modern society, power has become ubiquitous and subtle (Fussey 2004). This power which has developed via institutions such as prisons, schools and asylums, is now manifest in the entire society. CCTV is thus an example of the various disciplinary mechanisms. According to Foucault, the increasing use of surveillance marks a shift in emphasis from punishment (a feature of pre-enlightment penal technique) to regulation of the self (Fussey 2004).
But whilst Foucault’s perspective may provide a useful account of CCTV, this approach should be taken with caution. As suggested by Norris et al (1999), CCTV cameras have generally been used to selectively target particular sub-groups especially the ethnic minority groups. The use of CCTV to target selective groups and the application of actuarial techniques against the ‘underclass’ is indicative that CCTV is only ‘ubiquitous’ for certain groups and not the wider society as suggested by Foucault (Fussey 2004: p.257).
The scope of this analysis will be confined to the following research questions:What is the nature of the relationship between CCTV installation and crime reduction What current knowledge gaps exist with regard to the impact of CCTV in fighting crime To what extent have CCTV systems been deployed in London Has there been a huge difference in crime in terms of frequency of occurrence between the pre-camera and post-camera period Can any observed reductions and deterrence of crime in London be attributed to CCTV surveillance Methodology
A mixed method approach will be used to obtain data for analysis. The mixed approach will comprise of interviews with various stakeholders in London borough and a survey of secondary information that is available for review. This will include a review of the Home Office web site and past reports about crime reduction effects of CCTV. Semi-structured interviews will be conducted with key informants in 3 London boroughs including the Cambridge City Council CCTV operator (London Borough of Richmond upon Thames), Farnham CCTV operator in the Borough of Waverley and the Ipswich Borough Council CCTV operator. The researcher will also review research publications from the British Home Office and past reports that explore on the nature of relationship between CCTV and crime prevention. Online crime mapping tool will be used to locate crime to specific locations.
Validity and reliability of findings
The mixed method approach will not only provide more in-depth analysis, but will also increase reliability and validity of information collected. The primary data collected from semi-structured interviews with key informants will be supplemented by secondary information collected from a survey of Home Office data and other relevant past reports.
The dataset obtained from British Home Office will comprise of information about the type of crime, date of occurrence and the specific location where the crime took place. An online crime mapping tool which was launched in the UK in 2008 to help with geocoding accuracy of crime data will be used to pinpoint the exact location where crime took place (Griffith 2011). The crime evaluated will be limited only to those influenced by CCTV cameras. The crime data will then be aggregated into three main categories: disorder crime, serious crime and all crime.
In analyzing the impact CCTV on localized crime, the proposed dissertation will utilize a multi-method spatial approach. A combination of Hierarchical Linear Modeling (HLM) and Weighted Displacement Quotient (WDQ) will help provide more in-depth data analysis. HLM is a type of statistical analysis that allows for rigorous evaluation of the impact of CCTV on crime prevention (Ratcliffe et al. 2009). This analysis tool takes into account factors such as seasonality and ongoing trends. The analysis tool is also useful where there are repeated incidences of crime.
HLM is associated with a number of practical benefits. First, it takes account of the seasonality factor. Seasonal effects have particular relevance in that people would tend to spend more time outside during the warm seasons than cold seasons. Secondly, the analysis takes control of pre-camera implementation trends (Ratcliffe et al. 2009). An example of a pre-existing temporal trend is the possibility of regeneration taking place at a camera location (Ratcliffe et al. 2009). Failure to control such trends could result in overestimation or underestimation of CCTV’s crime reduction effects (Ratcliffe et al. 2009).
However, HLM statistical analysis tool is limited in its ability to disaggregate the effectiveness of each camera type (Ratcliffe et al. 2009). It is practically impossible to investigate each specific camera. Given the inability of HLM to disaggregate the effectiveness of each camera type, conducting a robust statistical analysis using this method becomes difficult. Perhaps, this is an area worthy of future investigation.
To address this limitation, the researcher will also utilize a Weighted Displacement Quotient (WDQ) analysis method. This method is also useful in determining the displacement effect of CCTV. This will require the researcher to first identify three operational areas:target area – this is the area where crime reduction strategy is already in place Buffer area – the buffer area is where crime is most likely to be displaced to. Control area – this is area will act as a check on general crime trends (Ratcliffe & Taniguchi 2008)
The Weighted Displacement Quotient (WDQ) analysis tool will be used to determine whether the differences in the levels of crime in target and buffer areas are a result of displacement effect of CCTVs or diffusion of benefits of CCTV surveillance in target area (Ratcliffe & Taniguchi 2008).
The main ethical concern that is likely to arise is that involving invasion of privacy in public spaces. Whilst this technology has been implemented as a benevolent means of fighting crime, there are concerns about personal liberty and invasion of privacy (Hempel & Topfer 2004). Given the sheer volume of CCTV cameras installed in the UK, it calls into question the freedom and privacy of the public. Have CCTV cameras been installed to protect the public from crime or are we living in ‘Big brother’ Surveillance society (Fletcher 2011)?
Perhaps to address this ethical concern, the researcher will recommend the use of regular crime analysis such as that used in CompStat to identify places of greatest risk of crimes (Welsh & Farrington 2010). Such information can be used as a guide for implementation of CCTV surveillance in areas of high risk crime, thereby reducing the threat of invasion of public’s privacy (Welsh & Farrington 2010).
But whilst CCTV systems have been criticized for invasion of privacy, there appear to be some sought of regulations adhered to by organizations when installing them. There is currently no regulation regarding installation of CCTV in private household. CCTVs can be installed in private households without the need of registering with regulatory body or adhering to any regulations. But for organizations seeking to install CCTV, they are required to follow the regulations dictated in the DPA98 such as the visibility of appropriate signage which should make the public aware that they are in an area of CCTV surveillance (Fletcher 2011).
Whilst the proposal is of paramount importance, the researcher is likely to encounter some limitations when conducting the research. These include:Budgetary constraints – Gathering of data can be expensive. As such, conducting extensive survey may be difficult owing to the budgetary constraints Time constraints – The task of exploring on the nature of the relationship between CCTV and crime prevention may be limited by time constraints. The researcher may be forced to make quick decisions rather than building a detailed picture due to time constraints. Additionally, the participants may not be willing to participate in the interviews
Nonetheless, the researcher will make efforts to address these limitations.Conclusion
This proposal has clearly laid out the approach that would be taken to address the objectives of the proposed dissertation. A mixed method approach would be used to obtain critical information about the nature of relationship between CCTV installation and crime prevention. A multi-method spatial approach will be used to analyze the data collected. A combination of Hierarchical Linear Modeling (HLM) and Weighted Displacement Quotient (WDQ) will help in evaluating effectiveness of CCTV surveillance in preventing crimes.
The main ethical concern that is likely to arise is that of personal liberty and invasion of privacy. But the researcher has suggested the use of regular crime analysis such as that used in CompStat, as a guide for implementation of CCTV in areas of high risk crime. This is expected to reduce the threat of invasion of privacy in public places.Reference
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