Does the use of CCTV prevent crime?
There have been many articles written and papers published on this subject since the deployment of CCTV became more prominent in the late 90’s. The British Security Industry Association (BSIA) estimates there are between 4-5.9 million cameras – so it would appear that public and private bodies alike believe that the use of CCTV has a positive effect upon preventing and reducing crime.
Assistant Chief Constable Mark Bates, national policing lead for CCTV, said "the location and number of cameras should be determined by the potential risk of harm to the public, rather than by a quota approach".
"I have no desire for us to creep towards a surveillance society - that is not in anyone's interests, but the efficient use of CCTV, in the public interest, is a key weapon in our arsenal of evidence which can help us apprehend offenders, reduce crime, protect the public and obtain justice for victims," he added.
A summary of many of the reports can be found at http://library.college.police.uk/docs/what-works/What-works-briefing-effects-of-CCTV-2013.pdf
Here at Sygma, part of our security service is to install and maintain CCTV cameras, but whereas the majority of reports tend to focus on the benefits of cameras reducing and preventing crime in public areas, our primary business is the deployment of cameras to protect business and private premises.
In our experience this type of system, utilising high quality cameras and preferably backed by our excellent and cost effective monitoring system, most definitely helps to deter criminals. We suspect that these criminals will continue to commit crimes against property but will seek alternative sites, which without adequate security measures, represent easier targets.
We have many examples of properties and sites, particularly car sites, where the deployment of monitored CCTV has stopped frequent criminal attacks.
An example of this is a used car dealership in Leighton Buzzard which, from the day it opened, was subject to frequent night time thefts where wing mirrors, wheels and other car body parts were stolen, causing thousands of pounds of damage, loss of equipment and business interruption. This was despite the fact that the site was well lit with high fences and locked gates.
Sygma were called to assist and we recommended the installation of a monitored CCTV system. This was 2 years ago and since that date the site has been attacked once, where 3 would be thieves scaled the fence, only to be immediately warned (using the Sygma PA system) by our monitoring station staff to leave the site as the police were on their way. Needless to say they fled empty handed! This is a scenario which is played out on weekly basis across hundreds of our sites in the UK, where time and time again the effective deployment of high quality, monitored cameras, deters criminal activity.
Does CCTV prevent crime? In our 14 years of business experience and the many examples we have, we would say definitely yes!
Criminals are risk adverse, always looking for the path of least resistance to steal and damage your property and possessions, therefore effective security is about building up layers of resistance to deter them from stealing your hard earned possessions or burgling your business or home.
- If a thief is confronted by a sturdy fence and gates, he may consider scaling the fence or snapping the lock on the gates if that’s the extent of your security.
- If once he goes beyond the fence he can see that the premises have cameras then this increases his risk, so he may think again.
- If he sees that the cameras are monitored live and that there are alarms and a PA speaker system deployed then this makes any criminal activity even riskier.
- If your premises within the fence line have an intruder alarm installed with a clearly visible, illuminated bell box then at what point does the thief turn his attention to a less secure site?
It's pretty much common sense – opportunistic criminals would prefer to spend as little time as possible in a cell! Therefore the majority will avoid putting themselves in a position where they can be identified or caught.
Does CCTV prevent crime? In this day and age can you afford to find out? In our opinion CCTV is cost effective and scalable and should always be considered as part of your security measures.