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CCTY And The Public Criminology Essay

In the year 2000, Philips reviewed the studies that evaluated the effectiveness of closed circuit television (CCTV) in reducing crime, disorder and the fear of crime in a variety of places by using a guiding procedure from Tilley's model (1993a), which focused on the operational mechanisms used in closed circuit television. After his review, he then concluded that CCTV can be very efficient in deterring property crime, but his findings were more restricted to personal crime, public offences and the fear of crime. He also examined the public attitudes towards the use of CCTV in public places. Armitage (2002), in his own review of recent researches into the effectiveness of CCTV on community safety and the practitioners, he observed that CCTV was not always as successful at reducing crime as it was claimed to be. Although he confirmed that CCTV coverage and the government’s funding of new systems have increased dramatically over the previous decade, in his findings, he strongly believed that CCTV has been more effective in deterring crime rather than being crime preventive. On the whole, he strongly believed that very little substantial evidence would suggest that CCTV worked.

Short and Ditton (1998) noted that researchers in Scotland had concluded that “CCTV cameras work to prevent criminality most of the time, unless the offenders were under the influence of alcohol”. Obviously, alcohol would hinder proper reasoning and correct decision options. Some CCTV evaluation workers e.g. Gill et al (2005) have interviewed offenders regarding their attitudes towards the installation of CCTV cameras and the possible effects on crime. Although in those studies Gill et al (2005), many offenders felt that CCTV installation has been beneficial to the society, a few people still believe that it was a waste, failing to acknowledge its effectiveness at reducing crime. It was then speculated that offenders would normally wait for the CCTV cameras to move away from their direction before committing the intended crime. It was concluded therefore, that CCTV might have little or no effect in preventing the offenders from committing a crime but rather it would make them aware that they were being watched, thereby rendering them to be more careful when committing crimes.

2.2 CCTV and the CCTV Operator.

But from the operators’ perspective according to Smith (2004), limited empirical research has been carried out on the dynamics and social interactions that make up a typical CCTV control room’s operational routine. He believed that the human element has been completely ignored and neglected. His study questioned the accuracy of a central assumption made in most of the written literatures on CCTV (Gill et al 2005). He believed that surveillance cameras were not only controlled and monitored constantly, but are also handled effectively and efficiently by the operators. In order to reduce the effects of tiredness and boredom, the operators often result into extra-curricular activities such as game playing while on duty. Indeed, the findings from the research of Smith (2004) suggested that the operators often felt imprisoned by their job within the confines of the CCTV control room. Based on these findings, he concluded that the human factor has undermined the effectiveness of CCTV surveillance system.

2.3 CCTV and transport

Regarding traffic accidents, Conche and Tight (2006) in their recent research, assessed the potential use for images collected through the increasingly use of CCTV cameras in urban areas as a means of understanding the causes of road traffic accidents and ensuring public safety of all road users. However, they thought that apart from CCTV being used to ensure public safety, it also provided records of accidents which could be used by safety researchers to increase both the quality of life and safety of road users. An area in central Leeds, which was studied showed that an existing CCTV camera network, used for monitoring urban traffic and managing surveillance, has the potential of recording about a quarter of the accidents which occured in the area. This was based on the pattern of past occurrences. Furthermore, majority of the High Streets in the United Kingdom will possibly have more camera set-ups placed in strategic places in order to reduce traffic accidents. The study also considered how resourceful the camera and video records could be as a means of collecting contributory factor information on a camera-captured accident. It was expressed as a general belief that the effectiveness of CCTV can only be assessed in terms of how visible each of the factors was likely to appear on video and its relative frequency of occurrence as well as how many crime issues it could resolve. The report concluded that CCTV has a high potential in providing adequate evidences about many of the most commonly occurring factors that contribute to traffic accidents, and in throwing further light on the causes of traffic accidents ( ).

2.4 CCTV and Crime.

In the field of environmental criminology, we can not but mention Paul and Patricia Brantingham (2003) who studied extensively the models of crime with theories of the spatial and temporal patterns of human activities to predict the patterns and likelihood of criminal events. By modelling the movement patterns of offenders and the victims, in relation to the distribution and concentration of other people, criminal targets can make it possible to anticipate patterns in the potential displacement of crime from one location to another. The analysis of the movement patterns of criminals utilizing particular crime attractors can provide information on likely crime locations. The behavioural pattern of criminals can be used to predict their activities and the environments of crime, as well as their next-line of actions. Their opinion was that crime prevention and intervention, undertaken in displacement areas, bearing in mind the times and situations that stimulate the occurrence of crime, could have the potential of increasing any crime preventive measure. That article explained how the development of a conceptual model can be used to quantify and predict crime displacement within the concept of time and space.

2.5 Crime Indicators and Attractors

The threat of crime to the community is threat to the safety of the society and the sense of security of the residents; and it is also believed to have major impacts on neighbourhood stability, urban and economic development, education, social integration and the perceived quality of life. Today, crime and disorder are often viewed as the main cause of the declining effect of many inner city neighbourhoods. The Fear of crime is sometimes regarded as being detrimental to the society as crime itself. Most crimes can be prevented if the signs are clearly understood and read, and indeed all crimes show crime indicators and signs before they occur.

Some of the known crime indicators include:

• Level of crime.

• Fear of crime.

• Crime victims as per cent of population.

• The safety of pedestrians walking alone at night.

• Crime rate.

• Property crimes.

• Percentage that decreased park use due to fear.

• Number of Neighbourhood Watch groups.

• Domestic assault reported per 100,000 populations.


The above are just a few crime indicators; crime indicators are also influenced by location, economic activities, weather conditions and the level of security, etc.

According to Spellman (1993), in an economically distressed neighbourhood, the abandoned houses and apartments can become hangouts for thieves, drug dealers, and prostitutes. Inquisitively, does CCTV surveillance recognise these indicators?

2.6 CCTV and the fear of crime.

Gafarole (1981), in a paper presented more than twenty years ago supporting Furstenberg (1972), made an observation that has proven to be the understatement of the decade for researchers studying the fear of crime. It was observed that"the relationship between a crime and its consequences is neither obvious nor simple". His observation was more correct than it was twenty years earlier, despite the fact that the knowledge about the causes and consequences of fear of crime has increased steadily over the years. Every advance that was made, whether by refining concepts, specifying and testing relationships, obtaining more comprehensive data or by some other means, seemed to generate more questions than it answered. After a preliminary discussion of concepts and indicators, a model of the causes and consequences of fear of crime was presented while the components of the model were described in the light of what was already known about the fear of crime. Although the question about the fear of crime has been a major issue with the policy makers and the public (Farrall et al. 2000). The concept of safety can be influenced by a range of different factors so is it with the fear of crime .e.g. Sarno et al., (1999) stated that the presence of CCTV does instil an atmosphere of safety while Ditton (2000) found that one of the positive impact of CCTV is linked to the positive views about CCTV (e.g. Spriggs et al., 2005)

Surette (2004) reviewed and discussed the shift to computer - enhanced self-monitoring CCTV surveillance systems of public spaces and the social implications. His findings showed the main differences between the first and second generation surveillance i.e. the change from a “dumb camera” (requiring the human eye for evaluating its images) to a computer-linked camera system which evaluates its own video images. Second generation systems therefore would reduce the human factor in surveillance and address some of the basic concerns associated with the first generation surveillance systems such as data swamping, boredom, voyeurism and profiling. Although additional research is needed to assess CCTV surveillance, the adoption of computer-enhanced CCTV surveillance systems should not be an automatic response to a public space security problem neither should their deployment be decided simply on the availability or cost.

In summary, the report has provided a concise overview of the concerns associated with the first generation CCTV surveillance and how the evolution of computer-enhanced CCTV surveillance systems will alter and add to these concerns before a system adoption or installation.

2.7 CCTV Evaluations.

Welsh and Farrington (2009) gave a recent review and analysis on the effectiveness of CCTV on crime in public spaces. He evaluated forty-four cases which met the inclusion criteria and the results showed that CCTV caused 16% decrease in crime within the experimental areas when compared with the control areas. The research was motivated by the quest to measure the effectiveness of CCTV schemes in car parks, which caused a 51% decrease in car park crime. CCTV schemes in most other public areas had a small but non-significant impact on crime with a 7% decrease in the city centres and in public houses. Public transport schemes had greater effects with a 23% decrease in total, but these were relatively insignificant. Conclusively, the evaluation showed that CCTV Schemes in the United Kingdom were more effective than other countries such as the USA, based largely on the studies in the car parks.

Although Tilley et al (2004) suggested that the use of CCTV increased the risks of being identified and captured as a criminal, Wright and Gibson (1995) added that having the local police and CCTV operators working hand in hand would further help in tracking down suspects and offenders. In the Early years, Ekblom (1986) emphasized that CCTV should be targeted on craved items and pocket-able goods in retail stores to supplement the effort of store detectives. Using the HMV store in Oxford Street as a case study, he discovered that store detectives can cub store theft with the joint effort of CCTV operators.

Several studies noted that crime often declined in the months prior to the installation of cameras. After cameras were fully operational, crime might continue to drop for a period as long as two years ( ). Crime would then begin to increase again. As suggested in the literature, this phenomenon is due to publicity or a lack of publicity. The greatest amount of publicity often occurred prior to the installation of the cameras. This was the time when crime levels begin to drop. If CCTV programs were continuously publicized, their effect on crime would remain steady otherwise crime and criminal behaviors would begin to increase as the effect of CCTVs disappeared. According to a brief on the effect of CCTV in 2002 at the Parliament Office of Science and Technology, there was a debate on the changes in recorded crime before and after CCTV camera installation. It was concluded that CCTV was unlikely to reflect crime accurately since not all offences are reported to or recorded by the police. Local surveys of crime may provide more accurate measures.

2.8 CCTV and crime displacements.

Repetto (1976) speculated that one or more displacements can occur together at the same time while he identified six types of displacements (tactical, situational, spatial, temporal and perpetrator). He defined spatial displacement as the movement of the same crime from one location to another. This is quite different from his definition of tactical displacement when an offender uses a different strategy to commit the same crime. He also defined temporal displacement as when the same offence is committed in the same area but at a different time. This type of displacement is time-oriented. Target displacement was explained when an offender becomes selective in choosing different victims within the same area. Finally, functional displacement operates when the offender changes from a particular crime to another within the same area. Reppetto (1976) then concluded that “Displacement refers to the shift of crime either in terms of space, time, or type of offence from the original targets of crime prevention or interventions”. Weisburd et al (2006) argued that crime has the potential to occur when three factors suitable for a crime are present within the available time and space (Cohen and Felson, 1979). However to further expatiate; neglecting the causes of crime such as unemployment and illegal drug would render any intervention ineffective. On the contrary, if the issues of unemployment and drug misuse are addressed, offenders may look elsewhere for a different target area in most cases areas without interventions and thereby leading to crime displacement. Alternatively however, diffusion of benefits to surrounding areas may occur as a result of the intervention. This would depend on the success of the intervention in apprehending offenders.

Young et al (2006) researched into crime displacements in King’s cross where views from the streets were used to highlight the impacts of CCTV and policing activities on visible street behaviours. The presence of CCTV surveillance cameras created the fear of being caught on camera thereby contributing to a change in street behaviours by the pedestrians. The data used in this research reflected the cessation of criminal behaviours on the streets. However, the presence of ‘blind spots’ (areas not accessible to CCTV) are often the areas with high rates of anti-social behaviours. It was concluded that CCTV surveillance cameras do not actually deter crime but rather they are more effective in providing visual evidences in the prosecution of criminals. Such information is handled by law enforcement agencies. Gill and Turbin (1999) studied the effect of CCTV and its effectiveness in a retail store, concluding that this may lower the attitude and vigilance of shop staff where CCTV is seen as the all- perfect panacea against shop theft or crime, as further buttressed by Beck (2006) on reduction in the degree of vigilance within the store. Nevertheless, the absence of CCTV in local areas was a pre-requisite for crimes such as stealing (Beck, 2006).

Gill and Spriggs (2005) wrote a review on the significant crime movements that could be observed clearly from the report on the evaluation of 13 out of the numerous CCTV projects that were put in place by the Crime Reduction Programme (CRP) initiative. The focus was to identify any form of spatial displacement in the schemes that were evaluated. Two techniques, which involved an experimental approach and GIS in assessing any changes in crime trends. The primary aim was to identify any form of displacement and if any could it be as a result of CCTV intervention?. The results showed little proof of displacement. Getis et al (2000) however reviewed the modern techniques of crime analysis with regard to the research and educational challenges outlined by the University Consortium for Geographic Information Science. More attention was devoted to the role that crime analysis currently and potentially played in reducing crime and improving the efficiency of police activities. The main aim was to stimulate an interest in promoting crime analysis in the advancement of crime mapping and visualization.

2.9 CCTV and Geographical Information System (GIS)

Williamson et al. (2000) took an experimental approach and regression analysis as a statistical procedure for analysing temporal crime trends over different periods. Few years later, Ratcliffe (2005) used the nearest neighbour test to identify crime pattern movements between two periods. Both scholars, Williamson et al (2000) and Ratcliffe (2005) used GIS and statistics in their research to provide a powerful tool for understanding the spatial characteristics and the impact of crime reduction measures. Levine (2008) added some other techniques based upon the analysis that could be valuable in hotspot detection. Generally therefore, it appeared that some crime types were predicted more successfully by using the Kernel density which was used for predicting crime hot spots (Chainey et al.,2008a).

General comments

Note that “et al” is always written in italics

2. Note that any significant result statement must have the appropriate reference(s) quoted against it

Note that person pronouns (I or We) are rarely used in dissertation reports, this is often avoided by employing indirect tenses, e.g. “the CCTV coverage zones were studied on two consecutive days” should be written instead of “I studied the CCTV coverage zones on two consecutive days ”

See under your “Introduction”: consider whether it was wise to have introduced cctv at all. Has it removed th anxiety of 1980’s that originally necessitated cctv era? You can discus your personal opinion from your findings

Gather from your literature review the main findings of previous workers that closely resemble your work and identify and relate their own achievements to clearly bring out what you have contributed to the literature of this field.

Discuss the appropriateness of the methodology you adopted in comparison with similar others (if any) from your literature review and why you chose it and not the others.

You may talk about what you would have better achieved if all the camera spots data were released to you by the Sheffield Information Dept.

What else can you discuss from your own intelligence and as a UK licensed driver on cctv traffic offences.

Find relevant references that you can use within your results and discussion section to support your findings e.g. on the crime displacements from central /darnall wards 7/9 to wards 6, 13, 2, etc., or deprivation-linked crime environments, etc.

Well-done and good luck, my dear; don’t look at the work but focus at the Glory-to-God praises on that day and the peace-covenant future awaiting you and your family.

1.3 Closed Circuit Television in Sheffield.

The first cameras were installed in 1996 prior to the Euro '96 football competition for which Sheffield was a host city; the cameras were primarily installed to monitor transport links within the city centre rather than to monitor crime scenes. It was not until four years later that more cameras were installed to help prevent and detect crime, in consultation with other services such as the South Yorkshire Police (SYP) and the South Yorkshire Passenger Transport (SPT). They were installed in areas that were potential "crime hotspots”. It is also clear that the major camera network is extensively installed in the city centre and along the major transport links into the city. Presently, Sheffield City Council has 133 Cameras as at the 1st of July 2010 compared with only 60 cameras in July 2000 indicating an increase of 73 cameras installed in 10 years. In 2001and 2003, 11 Cameras each were installed while in 2002, 26 Cameras were installed at each tram stop; in 2004, only 1 Camera was installed in Burn greave while in 2005, 5 Cameras at Eyre Street were installed and in 2006, none was installed.

In 2007, 2008 and 2009, a total of 17 cameras (10, 4 and 3 Cameras, respectively) were installed at Millennium Square/ Bus Lane/ Exchange Gateway, Ring Road Urban Traffic Control (UTC), and Granville Square/Bus Lane respectively. Currently in 2010, a few more cameras were installed “using funds from the Government’s Street Crime Initiative (Devonshire Green/The Wicker), the New Deal for Communities Board (Burn greave), Manor/Castle Development Trust (Park Hill) and Charter Row in the city centre (Single Regeneration Budget, Round 6). And cameras were also installed at Super tram stops from the city centre to Meadowhall terminus, parts of Tinsley and parts of Darnall and the city centre’’ (Sheffield City Council, 2010). More developments are expected in Eyre Street and Sheaf Square.

The cost of maintaining and monitoring these cameras are ridiculously high, a summary is detailed below;

The total Monitoring Costs = £474,600.00

The total Maintenance Costs = £198,037.00

Therefore the maintenance Costs per Camera is £1,489 per year i.e. each camera costs £3,568.42 to monitor per year. Despite the high cost of maintenance of CCTV, one of the most sophisticated and digital closed circuit television system in Sheffield is known as Sheffield Wide Image Switching System (SWISS), shown in Fig 2 which is still being used at an advantage in crime reduction.

Fig. 2: SWISS IN ACTION IN SHEFFIELD. (Courtesy Sheffield Town Hall).

Although the objective of creating SWISS , some of which include the prevention of crime and the provision of evidences against offenders to support crime tracking and prevention and then to help the traffic management or assist in the Automatic Number Plate Recognition initiatives to track vehicles used in criminal activities. However, in view of the cost of maintaining and monitoring these CCTV cameras, incorporated into a system known as SWISS, it would be useful to know if the Big Brother is actually watching the streets.

1.4 Crimes in Sheffield.

It was recorded that there was approximately 90% reduction in the number of steel workers employed between 1971 (45,100 workers) and 1993 (4,700 workers). According to Taylor et al (1996), about 10, 000 jobs were lost into the mining industry between 1994 and 1996. With this rapid increase in unemployment, crime rate has increased in certain areas in and around Sheffield , already identified by the SYP force as High Intensity Crime Areas, largely more to the part of the northeast of the city. It is estimated that about 60 000 people live in this area which includes the wards of Manor, Darnall, Brightside, a large area of Burngreave, and parts of Castle, Firth Park, Intake, and Nether Shire. These are, in fact, some of the most deprived wards in England. These wards are known to lack good health, educational awareness, and lack good housing facilities. Notwithstanding the presence of High Intensity Areas, according to Simmons et al. (2003), Sheffield is still believed to be one of the safest areas in the United Kingdom. (National Statistics, 2003).

1.5 Crime Indicators and Attractors.

The threat of crime to the community is threat to the safety of the society and the sense of security of the residents; and it is also believed to have major impacts on neighbourhood stability, urban and economic development, education, social integration and the perceived quality of life. Today, crime and disorder are often viewed as the main cause of the declining effect of many inner city neighbourhoods. The Fear of crime is sometimes regarded as being detrimental to the society as crime itself. Most crimes can be prevented if the signs are clearly understood and read and indeed all crimes show crime indicators and signs before they occur.

Some of the known crime indicators include:

• Level of crime.

• Fear of crime.

• Crime victims as per cent of population.

• The safety of pedestrians walking alone at night.

• Crime rate.

• Property crimes.

• Percentage that decreased park use due to fear.

• Number of Neighbourhood Watch groups.

• Domestic assault reported per 100,000 populations.


These are just a few crime indicators mentioned above; crime indicators are also influenced by location, economic activities, weather conditions and the level of security, etc.

According to Spellman (1993), in an economically distressed neighbourhood, the abandoned houses and apartments can become hangouts for thieves, drug dealers, and prostitutes. Inquisitively, does CCTV surveillance recognise these indicators?

1.6 CCTV Surveillance and the Human Error.

However, to start with, does CCTV identify crimes?

The long hours spent monitoring CCTV surveillance cameras and reviewing the tapes allow the human error factor to set in. No one seems to be an exception to the vulnerability of the unconscious influences and causes of a tired eye. Fig.3 shows a CCTV operator gazing consciously on a camera at close range. For how long can he gaze without missing the most vital indicator to show a crime as just occurred?

Fig. 3: CCTV OPERATOR IN CCTV CONTROL ROOM. (Courtesy, Google Images, 2010).

Heather (2005) has explained that the police rarely use the Public CCTV to immediately react to crime but only use it as hard evidence for prosecution and prediction. At the Urban eye expert conference few years ago, it was clear that the UK police officers had other priorities than reacting to CCTV nuisance calls for antisocial behaviours. The huge number of cameras in the UK and the broadcasting of these images on television have made petty crime and antisocial behaviours visible to the public. However because most criminal behaviours were recorded and made live, they became impossible to ignore. However Virilio (1998) explained that visual image is easily forgotten due to the speed of the visual image and the excitement of visual information and acquisition.

The use of CCTV by the Police is for evidence collection and to search relevant clues for other crimes committed in the area e.g. suspects arriving and parking their cars or other movements linked to another neighbouring crime. As the police employ CCTV image for prosecution, others are exploring how CCTV can be linked into a predictive or preventive system, which is beyond the established practice of making a video camera visible for deterrence. It is correct to say that mobile CCTV has been very useful in acquiring hot spots images. Though it has been assumed that CCTV displaces crime, it is quite subjective if we could base our facts on mere assumptions (Surveillance-and-society,2010).

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