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The effectiveness of CCTV in Trinidad and Tobago

RESEARCH PROBLEM

Port of Spain is the capital of Trinidad and Tobago, a twin island Republic that is located off the north eastern point of South America. Trinidad and Tobago covers an area of 1,980 sq miles or 5,128 sq km with a population of 1.3 million. However, Port of Spain alone consists of 365 sq km with a population density of 128,000 persons and an increasing crime problem especially in the main shopping areas. The level of street crimes in Port of Spain has been escalating over the past five years. For example, reported crime increased in 2005 by 48% from 2004, 55% in 2006, 30% in 2007, 25% in 2008 and 25% in 2009.

The most prevalent of these crimes include motor vehicle theft, robbery and murder. As a consequence, there are various preventative strategies that are frequently utilized to mitigate the effects of street crime. This research proposal is intended to identify a unique Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) system that can be applied to the reduction of escalating levels of street crime, the heightened fear of crime by both citizens and visitors alike, and antisocial behavior that takes place in public spaces in Port of Spain.

Developed urban societies of the world today thrive on the presumption that surveillance is part of their everyday life. This perception and acceptance has led to public acknowledgement that the United Kingdom is indeed a surveillance society (Ball et al., 2006). The use of CCTV systems as a formal surveillance measure of situational crime prevention is likely to bring benefits in reducing crime in developing urban societies. According to Norris and Armstrong (1999) CCTV was a panacea for crime and disorder. CCTV system requires the combined efforts of the Government as well as the private sector. As a matter of fact, private sector involvement has contributed to reduced costs for local councils (cited in Department of Criminology 2009: 8 - 11).

Historically, police forces in Britain (beginning with Durham in 1956) began to use CCTV to assist in the one-man operation of traffic lights” (ibid.: 13). In 1960 the Metropolitan police erected two pan-tilt and zoom cameras in Trafalgar Square to monitor the crowds during a Parliamentary State Visit and, although this was a temporary installation, it was re-erected later that year to monitor the revellers on Guy Fawkes night (ibid.: 4). By 1969, “14 different forces were using CCTV, a total of just 67 cameras nationally” (ibid.: 17). However, with the video recorder becoming commercially available during the 1960s, the early growth of CCTV was largely confined to the retail sector and by 1967, one company, Photoscan, was actively marketing CCTV to deter and apprehend shoplifters (McCahill & Norris, 2002). By 1991, there were no more than ten cities with open street systems in operation in the United Kingdom.

In 1993, the fuzzy CCTV images of toddler Jamie Bulger being led away from a Merseyside shopping mall by his two ten-year old killers placed CCTV in the spotlight. By the mid 1990s CCTV dominated the Government’s crime prevention programme, accounting for over three quarters of its budget. (Welsh and Farrington, 2004: 500). On the basis of these figures, we would estimate that around £4-5 billion has been spent on the installation of CCTV and maintenance of CCTV systems in the UK during the decade 1994-2004; and this excludes the monitoring costs associated with these systems.

The first national survey carried out in the USA in 1997, “found that only 13 city police departments in the country used CCTV video surveillance systems primarily to monitor pedestrian traffic in downtown and residential districts” (Nieto et al., 2002). By the advent of 2001 approximately twenty five (25) US cities were using CCTV to monitor public areas as a result of heightened security concerns following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. This has led to rapid diffusion of both CCTV surveillance and biometric technologies. CCTV video surveillance is widely used in public schools to monitor student movement and detect illegal activity and at street intersections to detect cars running red lights. (Nieto et al., 2002: 5) Sutton and Wilson, in their review of CCTV in Australia reported that the number of cities possessing open street CCTV systems had increased from 13 in 1996 to 33 in 2002 (Wilson and Sutton, 2003).

The theoretical possibilities for CCTV system as a means of reducing crime as examined in Brown (1995) study on the use of CCTV in the town centres of Newcastle, Birmingham and King’s Lynn in London. He indicated by short term evaluations of town centre schemes crime is deterred when cameras are first installed within an area. Brown also pointed out that camera coverage in Birmingham decreased robbery and theft from the person in the areas and with the impact of CCTV the survey found that people who were aware of the cameras felt safe in the city centre streets after dark after the cameras were introduced.

According to Ditton & Short (1999), subsequent to the installation of open-street CCTV in Airdrie, recorded crimes and offences fell to 79% of their previously recorded levels, and detections rose from 50% to 58%. Conversely, after the installation of open-street CCTV in Glasgow, recorded crimes and offences rose to 109% of their previously recorded levels, and detections fell from 64% to 60%. It could therefore be concluded that CCTV worked in Airdrie, but not in Glasgow.

The aim for the research proposal is research the effectiveness of CCTV systems to achieve crime reduction benefits from a strategic approach intended to address the problem of street crime in urban developing societies and how it can be replicated to Trinidad and Tobago.

The research Proposal utilized secondary data collection by searching the internet databases, searched reviews of the literature on the effectiveness of CCTV in deterring crime and searched journals/ bibliographies of CCTV reports to achieve the desired data and information for this research proposal.

There is much available research data and information on CCTV that can extracted from internet web sites, online databases and from Leicester university blackboard using the keywords for example effectiveness CCTV, research CCTV, Crime and CCTV, Situational Crime Prevention and CCTV reducing crime.

Government and the private enterprise partnering in a unique CCTV system can only achieve fruitful results by contributing to the following objectives.

a) Contribute towards public safety

b) Prevent and detect crime and disorder

c) Prevent and detect anti social behaviour

d) Prevent and detect the misuse of drugs and alcohol

e) Prevent and detect behaviour adversely effecting the environment.

f) Public reassurance and reduction in the levels of fear of crime.

Theoretical perspective and concepts

Cessare Lombrosso (1835-1901) believed that people were ‘born’ criminals and destined to a life of crime. However criminologists who supported the premises that crime has some biological basis linked believe that criminals have also social and situational conditions rather than biological abnormality or psychological problems (Siegel, 2007: 8). From then to now there are many theories and concepts that identified the causation of crime and more so street crime.

Globally there are numerous types of street crime ranging from pilfering to murder. These street crimes are varies types of personal attacks which a person could have inflicted upon another, ranging from common assault, actual bodily harm, grievous bodily harm and there are sexual assaults range from indecent assault to full rape threatened the safety of persons in the society, therefore, resulting in people for example, the elderly, women, young children and teenagers having limits on their freedom of movement and prevent them from fully participating in the society. These crimes affect people in the New York United States of America, London United Kingdom, Sydney Australia and Port of Spain Trinidad and Tobago.

Governments utilized Situational crime prevention strategies to mitigation the consequence of street crime. These Situational crime prevention strategies have in some countries control, reduce or even partially eliminate crime, the fear of crime and antisocial behaviors.

Situational crime prevention is supported by environmental criminology, rational choice theory, routine activity and crime pattern theory (Clarke, 1993, Felson, 1994). Environmental criminology deals with crime, criminal and victims which focus on place and space in regard to the time, spatial aspect of criminal event.

Cohen & Felson (1979) fundamental of routine activity theory is that an incident can occur where the convergence of the presence of a potential offender, in the vicinity of a suitable target in the same place and time, and in the absence of a ‘capable guardian’ (a person or system that could prevent or discourage the offence). CCTV applied to routine activity theory can be perceived as a form of capable guardian that could be utilized to change the offender calculated decision to commit street crime where the risk is too high of the offender being seen resulting in being caught.

According to Cullen and Agnew (2003) Rational Choice Theory operates on the premise that humans behave in a purely rational manner performing action that are for their own benefit (Scott, 2000), humans will naturally make a decision that will avoid pain and provide the greatest amount of pleasure, even if it means violating the law (Bentham, 1789) Rational Choice Theory established that street crimes occurs when a perpetrator decides to break the law after considering both opportunistic factors, for example, the need for money, revenge, thrill, entertainment and situational factors such as how attractive the target. Therefore, rational choice perspectives integrated with CCTV, street crime can be prevented. Research has examined the effect of CCTV on offenders’ behaviour across a range of contexts and identified that CCTV tends to be an effective deterrent against planned offences and impacts more on premeditated crimes (Brown, 1995; Welsh and Farrington, 2002; Gill et al., 2005).

Analysing the impact of CCTV on public behaviour, Mazerolle (2002) found that the cameras created an initial deterrence in the two-month period after installation but to prolong the effect recommended increasing the deterrence of using signs and short sporadic cameras deployment. The types of mechanisms that need to be utilised to increase the perceived risk of CCTV for offenders include using publicity detailing successes of the cameras and the capabilities of systems (Cited in Department of Criminology 2009: 8 - 22).

The framework to explore a unique CCTV system as a capable guardian can assist law enforcement personnel in reducing street crime whereby increases the risk of the offender. Increasing the risk makes the target appears to be unattractive and this discourages the offender of committing the act. CCTV system acting as a capable guardian can be increased by:

The installation of cameras employs can effectively and efficiently patrol of urban societies, however strategically place cameras can project an advantage view of incidents that occur. The system main purpose is to assist the law enforcement personnel in the coordination of effective response and also to monitor areas in response to assistance requested.

The system can assisted in the identification and the arrest of criminal by keeping offenders under surveillance by the operators of the offender (s) who flee from the crime scene, hide behind barriers or conceal themselves in large groups of people. The operators can communicate this information to law enforcement personnel within the environment.

The presence of cameras acting as a deterrent can generate a sense of feeling by the offenders of being seen, resulting in the offender recalculating his or her decision to commit that act.

The system assists law enforcement personnel in their investigation by providing information that can be transformed into evidence. This information gathered by recording of law enforcement response to an incident. The information can assist in identifying and locating witnesses who was in the immediate area, also to assist in deploying law enforcement personnel to the incident scene to have the area sterile. The information as evidence can be useful in court to acquire a guilty verdict of the offender(s).

The installation of a unique CCTV system may have a different impact within different environments and affect different crimes in different ways, according to Honess and Charman (1992) who reported that the public felt that cameras would have little effect on offences such as (drunken) disorderliness and rowdy behaviour, because 'they will do it anyway. However, with the intervention of sophisticated technology features such as night vision, computer assisted operation for example facial recognition, behavioural pattern software, and motion detection facilities which allows the operator to identify faces and behaviour of offenders for example disorderliness and rowdy behaviour of persons. The effect of the system clarity of the pictures is often excellent, with many systems being able to recognize a person at a hundred metres. The systems can often work in pitch blackness, bringing images up to daylight level.

Research methods

The research methodologies used for supporting this research proposal are discussed. A qualitative research method has utilized empirical research to develop the findings through the collection of data gathered through observation of a unique CCTV system and evaluation research has been conducted to examine the perceptions and practices of the effectiveness of CCTV system in the reduction of crime in urban developing societies by applying scientific procedures to the research design. The evaluation is concerned with ascertaining the ‘merit or worth or value’ of an intervention and developing ‘practical knowledge to aid the decision making process’ used to inform the operation of interventions (Clarke and Dawson, 1999: 3). The evaluations not only establishes whether CCTV system has worked but also examine factors which account for the success or failure of the intervention, and this information can be fed back into the project to improve its operation and outcomes (Cited in Department of Criminology 2009: 8 – 3) .

Researchers can be under pressure to find whether CCTV system is successful as many of the studies on the effectiveness of CCTV have produced contradictory results due to variations in the circumstances of the introduction of CCTV leading to varying effects (Tilley, 1998). Utilizing the scientific realism approach developed by Pawson and Tilley (1997) tried to identify how CCTV works and specifically in what contexts (Tilley 1993, Gill and Spriggs, 2005). Academics (Armitage et al., 1999; Tilley 1993) have documented several ways or mechanisms that could result in CCTV bringing about change in an area and those devised by Tilley (1993, quoted in Gill and Spriggs, 2005)

Sample population method was used to access data on the crime before and after CCTV was installed in urban developing societies. These issues may be very important, the level of interest being dependent on reducing crime. Clearly, it will not be possible to make generalisations about the whole population if the study includes criminal of urban societies that were indentified in New York in and Sydney. Social scientists are dependent upon the co-operation of ‘gatekeepers’, who can provide, or not provide, access (formal entry) to the countries of research (Cited in Department of Criminology 2009: 8 - 23).

Problem-solving research aspect to identify a unique CCTV system that can be applicable to the reduction of the escalating street crime, fear of crime and antisocial behavior in Port of Spain Trinidad and Tobago.

The research Proposal utilized secondary data collection by searching the internet databases, searched reviews of the literature on the effectiveness of CCTV in deterring crime and searched journals/ bibliographies of CCTV reports to achieve the desired data and information for this research proposal.

A unique CCTV system consists of modern technologies, places and people. CCTV system comprises of camera that could be mounted on a wall, a street Light Pole, a fence or the roof of a building, a monitoring centre that comprises of wall mounted monitors and desk top monitors, recording facility, data processing area and communication area and also available response teams to act on the available information received via the cameras and communicated via the communication to prevent, deter or apprehend offenders.

Analog and digital are the two types of CCTV camera systems available today. At present there are several countries that are moving away from analog system and adopted digital systems. A modern digital CCTV security system consists of hardware and software components that collect and transmit vital surveillance camera information either fibre optic lines or wireless broadband communication to control rooms staffed by law enforcement personnel and equipped with digital wall mounted CCTV monitors and server recording room. An example of the surveillance cameras system used for reducing crime in LA's MacArthur Park include Cyber Dome Day/Night 25X cameras equipped with removable infrared cut filters, 25x optical zoom lenses, 12x digital zoom capabilities, and 360-degree PTZ (pan tilt zoom) capabilities. This MacArthur Park system also includes GE Store safe DVRs (digital video recorders) and GE KTD-405 keypad controllers. DVRs are capable of saving CCTV data to a PC for up to ten weeks of recording and some even feature motion detection technology, which means that the footage is only recorded when motion triggers the DVR system.

Digital surveillance cameras range in type from compact, fixed cameras to direction-controlled models that can be viewed in the dark under various lighting conditions. CCTV decision-makers must have prior knowledge of the use each surveillance camera type. Cameras capable of watch the flow of passers by (fixed cameras) or monitor a crime-targeted area (dome cameras with PTZ functions). Weatherproof surveillance cameras mounted in hot climate areas and maintenance available to relocate, replace or clean if the viewing fields could be obscured by dirt or dust.

Recent advances in technology and software mean many DVRs are now equipped with advanced features such as Motion Recording and Event Notification. When set to motion record mode, devices will only record when the CCTV camera detects motion. This saves storage space because the device is not recording during periods of inactivity. Event Notification is the process of sending a text message, recorded telephone messages or email when motion is detected.

This is particularly useful for unmanned systems. The recorded information can be stored and/or reviewed by those who have access to the recordings at their convenience. Many of the latest DVRs also have network connections so that saved and live footage can be accessed remotely using any web browser with a live internet connection.

A unique is a costly process and impact as identified in that there are 10,524 CCTV cameras in 32 London boroughs funded with Home Office grants totalling about £200million indicated by Justin Davenport (2007).

Anticipated problems

There is much information available on CCTV system and this poses particularly serious problems for potential researchers. Therefore, the researcher with advance knowledge and proper planning will retrieve the information necessary and not compromise the validity by data fishing.

The problem when conducting Internet research, the researcher should be aware of the boundaries between the public and the private domains, and also any legal and cultural differences across jurisdictions. The researcher identified the boundaries as the research focus on the public domain where the reduction of street crime is the main problem.

The research concluded that for CCTV to be effective it needs to be implemented with a clear strategy that takes into account local crime problems and identifies the mechanism by which the system will address the problems. With this in mind the researcher drew information from security assessment providing crime spot areas that can address cameras installation usefulness.

There are limited evaluations conducted on the effectiveness of closed circuit television, however, there are enough information on implementation and management of CCTV as a street crime reduction strategy since it has been instituted two decade ago the limited research information was utilized for this research to be conducted successfully. The available research data and information was extracted from internet web sites, online databases and from Leicester university blackboard using the keywords for example effectiveness CCTV, research CCTV, Crime and CCTV, Situational Crime Prevention and CCTV reducing crime. Crime patterns across areas are not stable and can change as a result of a countless of actors including changes to policing, types of offenders, seasonal variations and changes in the makeup of areas. The security assessment will identify that CCTV should be adaptable and ultimately install in emerging crime hot-spots.

Many of the researcher’s problems were incurred in retrieving the research information on the up-to-date quasi experimental evaluation on the effectiveness of CCTV, whereby researchers encounter hindrance to access that data and the main contributor id cost, many up to date information on crime before and after the installation of CCTV via Emails, journal, EBooks or meetings has a price, therefore before attempting the study the researcher received assistance from different sponsors so that reliable information can be available for the research..

CCTV system cannot work by itself, there are supporting aspect that is needed for the system to generate success, such as response personnel (law enforcement) to apprehend offenders, operator to relay the information on the monitors to guide the response team and maintenance team to provide that service that the cameras will be constantly working


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