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Does the Presence of CCTV Have an Effect on Crime?

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Criminology
Wordcount: 2801 words Published: 23rd Sep 2019

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Does the Presence of CCTVs Have an Effect on Crime?


Regarding the criminal justice system, one of the main goals is preserving public safety. A struggle with achieving that goal is the idea that criminal justice officials do not have the ability to be present in all areas at all times. Implementing CCTVs in various locations can create the presence of criminal justice officials when they do not have the ability to be actually present. CCTVs can deter criminals from committing crimes, resulting in the reduction of crime overall, thus assisting in reaching the goal of preserving public safety. This research proposal presents a study that will help determine if implementing CCTVs has an effect on crime.


Technology is evolving on a daily basis.  As society advances from a technological standpoint, it is necessary that it also advances in other areas such as analytically, intellectually, culturally, etc. One of the main goals of the criminal justice system is preserving public safety. Implementing cameras can help maintain that goal by ensuring the safety of the public in the areas that the law enforcement may not be present at a given time (Gustav, A, 2017). Under the wide umbrella that is defined as technology, cameras have an intricate role. Cameras provide the ability  to capture certain situations, save them, and view them later. Implementing cameras could cause fear in potential offenders and deter them from committing crime. This fear could stem from getting caught, being arrested and going to jail and/or prison.  With the implementation of cameras, the presence of law enforcement could always be present. A continued issue within the criminal justice system comes from crimes being unreported. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, nearly 3.4 million crimes go unreported per year. Implementing cameras can help reduce this number. Implementing cameras can be the change the criminal justice system needs by deterring offenders by increasing the possibility of being caught, resulting in the overall reduction of crime.





Literature Review

Implementing CCTVs as a crime prevention and crime-solving method could result in the improvement of the lives of the community in which they exist. Previous studies have shown that CCTVs have immediate crime-reducing effects. Scholars have explained that CCTVs have the ability to deter potential offenders from engaging in criminal activity by increasing their chances of being caught on tape which would result in them being caught by the police.

Crime Prevention

 The spectrum of potential crime-preventative results is wide when it comes to the implementation of CCTVs. Deterrence as a result of implementing CCTVs is at the forefront. Examining crime through the lens of rational choice theory would result in the offender making a choice to engage in criminal activity. Upon making that choice, the offender would determine the pros of the offense, the cons of the offense, and the potential risks that are attached to the offense (Clarke, 1997). Implementing CCTVs can attach more risks to the offense and deter the offender from committing it because they fear being caught and going to jail or prison (Ratcliffe, J, 2006).


 In order to view the greatest impact of the CCTVs, implementing them in locations with a high crime rate is most beneficial. Implementing the CCTV in an area that has experienced at minimum 20 crimes prior to implementation is a good measure for determining where the camera should reside. Welsh and Farrington’s study determined that CCTVs may have had a small effect on crime, but it was significant. The study also resulted in no effect on violent crime following the implementation of CCTVs (Welsh & Farrington, 2002).  In addition to that, Ratcliffe, Taniguchi, and Taylor’s study in Philadelphia resulted in a 13% reduction in offenses overall, a 16% reduction in disorder, but there was no reduction in violent offenses (Ratcliffe, Taniguchi, & Taylor, 2009). In that same study, the researchers implemented CCTVs in Newark, NJ. This study resulted in significant reduction in auto theft but no reduction in other categories of offenses. Lastly, in the same study, the researchers implemented CCTVs in three cities in Baltimore. The implementation in Baltimore resulted in a significant reduction of violent offenses but no effect on property offenses. Many of the mentioned studies have found that the effectiveness of the CCTVs depends on the context in which they are applied i.e. city, camera location, distinguishing factors, and implementation timing. Previous research has found that the results of CCTV implementation has greater effects on certain crimes but not others (Gill & Spriggs, 2005). To summarize the effectiveness of CCTVs that previous research has found, there is evidence that CCTVs have the ability to reduce crime. It appears to be necessary to examine the effects of CCTVs in multiple locations with different factors that may affect them. Majority of the previous research focuses on particular categories of crime, such as violent crime and property crime. Through the research examined, property crime has shown to have the greatest effect once the CCTVs were implemented. When examining research that has set out to determine the effects of CCTVs on violent crime, most studies have resulted in null effects (Lim & Wilcox. 2017).


 There are a number of studies that found it difficult to determine if CCTVs had an effect on crime due to displacement. Displacement is defined as the relocation of crime. Crime displacement has previously been viewed as a weakness of the use of CCTVs, fearing that the CCTV does not reduce crime but simply relocates to an area further away.  Gill and Spriggs set their study on the idea of if the changes in crime pattern are a result of displacement or attributed to implementing CCTVs. Their results showed little evidence of displacement effecting reduction in crime but full evidence of the CCTVs effecting the change in crime (Gill & Spriggs, 2005). Choi and Kim (2007) examined displacement along with the diffusion of benefits that may come along with the CCTVs. This study found that the implementation of CCTVs may have resulted in displacement of burglary and robbery, but the diffusion of benefits was greater than displacement.  In addition to displacement, there are other factors that make it difficult to determine the effects of CCTVs on crime. Issues that surround the CCTV, such as time of day or day of the week, can cause a gap in understanding the data. There has been little research exploring these factors (Lim & Wilcox, 2017).


Research Questions

 Although there has been many studies conducted to determine the effects that CCTVs have on crime, there is still additional knowledge to be gained. The goal of this study is to gather data in hopes to formulate a conclusion on the effects that CCTVs have on crime. This study is determined to answer the following: Does implementing CCTVs reduce crime in various cities that currently experience high instances of Part 1 and Part 2 offenses?

Research Hypothesis

 This study examines one hypothesis to determine if the presence of CCTVs have an effect on crime. That hypothesis is that implementing CCTVs in cities with high arrest reports and calls to the police will reduce the amount of arrests and calls to the police that the city experiences.

Variables and Measurement

 Within the study, the presence of CCTVs will serve as the independent variable. The goal is to determine if having CCTVs present or not having CCTVs present effects crime. CCTV is defined as a closed-circuit television, better known as  video surveillance, that is used to transmit a signal to a specific place on a limited set of monitors. The type of CCTV that will be used is a PTZOptics 20x-SDI. This camera has the ability to zoom in, zoom out, pan left, pan right, pan up, and pan down. The PTZOptics 20x-SDI has the ability to zoom enough to read a car license plate up to a block away. The number of crimes will serve as the dependent variable. The number of crimes will be measured by arrest records and calls to the police. The type of crimes that will be measured are Part 1 offenses and Part 2 offenses as defined in Uniform Crime Reports. UCR Part 1 offenses are defined as: murder, homicide, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, motor vehicle theft, larceny-theft, and arson. UCR Part 2 offenses are defined as: simple assaults, receiving stolen property, weapon violations, prostitution, narcotic drug laws, liquor laws, drunkenness, disturbing the peace, disorderly conduct, and vandalism. The dependent variable will be measured for 12 months before before implementation of the CCTVs, six months after the implementation of the CCTVs, and 12 months following the implementation of the CCTVs. The dependent variable will be measured by obtaining arrest records and records that provide the amount of calls from to the police. The records will be collected from the local police department that the CCTVs have been implemented in. There will be two control variables within this study. The first control variable is the type of CCTV implemented. As previously stated, this study will utilize the PTZOptics 20x-SDI. Keeping the type of CCTV constant in all of the cities that will be examined will ensure that the results true and there is no variation due to ability or physical appearance of the CCTV.  The second control variable will be distance the CCTV will monitor and will be included in the count of the dependent variable as well as the buffer zone. From the location that the camera is implemented, there will be a 600 feet target zone for the monitoring of the dependent variable. Any offense that occurs within that target zone will be used in the totaling of the dependent variable. Ensuring that the target zone is the same in all of the locations where the CCTV is implemented will make sure that all actual offenses are accounted for and additionally, one city is not monitoring a greater area than another city. A buffer zone will be implemented 600 feet outside of the target zone. The buffer zone will be in place to minimize any potential displacement that might occur. The buffer zones will be surrounding the target area that crimes are likely to be displaced to. Any crime that occurs within any of the buffer zones will be accounted for in the totaling of the dependent variable.

Design and Sampling

 In order to determine what cities will be sampled in this study, arrest records and reports that show calls to the police will be examined. When examining the reports, any cities that have experienced at least 150 arrests and anything greater than 250 calls to the police within the past 12 months will be selected for the study. Since there will be specific cities that will be monitored based on statistics, this study will take a non-random approach. The cameras will physically be implemented in locations that are best fit based on building infrastructure. When implementing the cameras, the flashing red light that indicates “recording” will be in use at all times. In addition to the flashing light, three signs that indicate “recording is in progress” will also be implemented. The signs will be installed directly next to the CCTV, 100 feet away from the CCTV (within target zone), and 300 feet away from the CCTV (within target). A purposive sample is best fit for this research design because not all cities are selected to monitor. Monitoring cities with high instances of arrests and calls to the police would assist in determining if crime did in fact increase, decrease, or remained the same following the implementation of CCTVs.

Data Collection Method

 The study will commence on June 30, 2019. To determine the measure of the specified areas prior to the implementation of CCTVs arrest records and calls to the police in part 1 and part 2 offenses will be examined from 12 months prior to implementation (June 1, 2018-June 1, 2019). Measuring the dependent variable 12 months prior to implementation will help determine the effect on the area without the presence of CCTVs. After that data is collected and totaled, the CCTVs will be implemented. Arrest records and calls to the police will be examined after six months of the CCTVs being in effect and totaled. Arrest records and calls to the police will again be examined after 12 months of the CCTVs being in effect and totaled. With the process of two different time periods for measurement of the dependent variable,  this will assist in determine the actual effect of the CCTVs versus the change in crime rate overall.

Ethical Issues

 There is a potential ethical issue that ties into the constant filming of citizens. The CCTVs will be monitoring constantly and one may say that is an invasion of privacy or there must be consent from the individuals being filmed. To prevent this potential issue from becoming a problem, it will be ensured that the target zone does not included places with the expectation of privacy such as restrooms or changing rooms.




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