8. 1 Aims and objectives of the Unit



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Technologies of Control


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Criminology

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8.1 Aims and objectives of the Unit
The aim of this unit is to provide an overview of recent technology developments in the field of security, with particular emphasis on how the use of the technologies impacts on the lives of individuals. The objectives are:


  • Consider the main research techniques that have been used to evaluate the impact of security technologies.

  • Identify the main drivers that have led to the growth of technological fixes to modern security risks.

  • Examine how the technologies are impacting or could potentially impact on offending behaviour and their effect on society.

  • Review research findings related to the effectiveness of the technologies



8.2 Introduction
Contemporary security policies are characterised by a dramatic focus on high technology like biometrics as a security enabler. The process of technoligization of security i.e. the making of technology the centrepiece of security systems and its perception as an absolute security provider started in the US in the Eighties and has since been expanded to the European Union (EU) and to almost all developed countries.
(Ceyham, 2007: 102)


Basically all technology is made for ordering the world and reproducing it. Modernity has applied these ordering techniques to humans, under the general category of discipline.
(Lianos and Douglas, 2000: 263)

Modern society is characterised by increasing levels of global social mobility and uncertainty relating to levels of risk posed by internal and external security threats. Within this climate security driven by technology is increasingly being used by governments, corporate bodies and individuals to monitor and reduce risk (Lyon, 2004). There has been an acceptance that the criminal justice system is limited in its capacity to control crime which has led to the exploration of other avenues for tackling crime (Zedner, 2003) and this has provided a market for private companies to push forward the growth of technological security innovations. Security technologies are primarily a type of surveillance tool that takes a number of forms and is used to check identity, prevent and deter crimes, intercept communications and they address the ‘demand for knowledge and support, coming from the public and private sectors’ (Savona and Mignone, 2004: 23). The technological developments that have infiltrated security and crime prevention strategies have allowed increased surveillance and recording of the movement and behaviour of people ‘without the need for constant direct observation or containment of those monitored in particular spaces’ (Graham and Wood, 2003).
This unit considers three forms of technologies that have been utilised for the purpose of security namely CCTV, biometrics and RFID (Radio, Frequency, Identification Devices). These technologies have been implemented for the purpose of security across a range of different contexts. CCTV has been widely implemented in the UK as a crime prevention measure in public spaces whilst the major use of biometrics is controlling flows of individuals across borders. RFID has been used extensively to electronically tag and monitor offenders within the criminal justice system (so represents another realm that has been infiltrated by technological solutions). Technologies are used often in conjunction to allow for more effective surveillance and this issue is considered at the end of the unit. A theme running through the unit is how research has investigated the real or potential impact of security technologies and a number of research models are initially outlined in the unit. Academic research has certainly raised concerns regarding how well security technologies work, the levels of discrimination contained with the technologies and the extent that the technologies are infiltrating different aspects of society (Ball and Haggerty, 2005), and these themes form the foundation of the unit.
8.3 Researching the Impact of Security Technologies
Within the field of research that investigates and theorises about the impact of security technologies, a wealth of research methodologies have been applied which reflects the diverse nature of the individual technologies and the huge disparities in where and how they are implemented and operated. The discussion below considers some of the methodologies used to study security technologies but only scratches the surface of this complex field of investigation and is intended to introduce the reader to the main forms of evaluation used within the research field.
The expansion of security technologies across many areas of society has lead to intensification of surveillance practices and this in turn has ‘prompted rich empirical and theoretical inquiry’ (Ball and Haggerty, 2005: 129). The empirical techniques that have been adopted by academic researchers are varied and there has been a great deal of debate regarding the most suitable methods of identifying whether interventions are effective (Tilley, 1998; Farrington, 2002) which is covered below. Academics have also tried to examine the potential impact that expanding security technologies, such as biometrics, may have on society by using various theoretical frameworks and some of the main characteristics of this type of research are examined below.
8.3.1 Empirical Research
Empirical research develops findings through the collection of data gathered through observation that is usually used to test research hypotheses. Across a number of security technologies evaluation research has been conducted to examine the effectiveness of programmes by applying scientific procedures to the research design. 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). Evaluations will not just try and establish whether an intervention has worked but also looks at what factors 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.
Researchers can be under pressure to find whether interventions are successful. Clarke and Dawson (1999: 16) highlight that any research takes place within a particular social context and there are often stakeholders who have a vested interest in the evaluation findings. In the context of security technologies they are often expensive to implement and stakeholders may want evidence of success to verify the benefits of their financial commitment.
When evaluating any intervention it is important to establish the aims and objectives of the project which are the desired outcomes. Part of an evaluation process will often entail collecting outputs and these are what are produced by the project. The outputs are things that need to be achieved before an intervention can meet its objectives (Home Office, 2002). For example, a CCTV project will need to install cameras and establish monitoring operations as outputs before any crime reductions can be realised. A process evaluation will often be undertaken to ascertain whether a project is working properly which seeks to establish whether a project has been fully implemented and how it operates (Home Office, 2002: 104). The outcomes from a project are the overall results from the project and often relate to reductions in crime or fear of crime levels. The actual form an evaluation takes varies depending on the objectives of the research and a number of models are considered below.
8.3.1.1 Quasi-Experimental Evaluation
The basic structure of a quasi-experimental evaluation involves examining the impact of an intervention by taking measurements before and after it is implemented. An evaluation may examine the impact of an intervention on crime levels or whether an intervention has changed the perception of individuals. The actual process of conducting a quasi-experimental evaluation is often complex as inferring cause and effect is often difficult (Sherman et al, 1997). Evidence should be collected to ascertain whether any change that has occurred is due to the intervention being researched or other causes, known as confounding variables. Sherman et al (1997) developed a 5-point scale called the Maryland Scientific Method Scale (SMS) to evaluate the methodological quality of studies and the authors indicate that confidence in the results is highest at level 5 and level 3 should be the minimum level required to achieve reasonably accurate results. The criteria for each level of the scale are:
Level 1: Correlation between a prevention programme and a measure of crime at one point in time (e.g. areas with CCTV have lower crime rates than areas without CCTV)
Level 2: Measures of crime before and after the programme, with no comparable control conditions (e.g. crime decreased after CCTV was installed)
Level 3: Measures of crime before and after the programme in experimental and control conditions (e.g. crime decreased after CCTV was installed in an experimental area, but there was no decrease in crime in a comparable area)
Level 4: Measures of crime before and after in multiple experimental and control units, controlling for the variables that influence crime (e.g. victimisation of premises under CCTV surveillance decreased compared to victimisation of control premises, after controlling for features of premises that influenced their victimisation)
Level 5: Random assignment of program and control conditions to units (e.g. victimisation of premises randomly assigned to have CCTV surveillance decreased compared to victimisation of control premises)
(Farrington, 2002)

When researching the impact of security technologies it is very difficult to achieve level 5 on the SMS because interventions are often implemented across areas and groups without any scope for random assignment. Research within real world settings has to take account of ethical issues. For example, a researcher cannot dictate whether certain groups experience one technological security sanction (e.g. electronic monitoring) and another group are deprived of the sanction (Finn and Muirhead-Steves, 2002: 309; Bonta et al, 2000a: 324). A range of independent variables have been used to measure the impact of security technologies including recorded crime levels across target areas (e.g. Welsh and Farrington, 2002, 2008), recidivism rates of offenders (Finn and Muirhead-Steves, 2002) and public attitudes (e.g. Gill et Spriggs, 2005d).
One of the main difficulties in conducting real world research is identifying suitable control units. Ideally control and experimental units are identical and then when an intervention is introduced into the experimental unit any difference between the two units can be attributed to the intervention. Problems can occur matching control and experimental conditions especially when examining the impact of interventions within real world settings such as cities and towns. Over an evaluation period inconsistent changes may occur across the two conditions that mean it is no longer valid to compare the two conditions. Security technologies are rarely implemented as an isolated measure and therefore it is often difficult to unpick their impact from quantitative measures taken from experimental and control areas. For example, levels of detected crimes are often used to evaluate CCTV but a range of activities can impact on crime levels, therefore the impact of the cameras can be difficult to isolate.
An important issue that needs to be factored into any evaluation is displacement. An intervention may simply displace a problem to another area or make the offenders change the type of crime they commit, how they commit crimes and/or the times when they commit crimes (Repetto, 1976). Advocates of situational techniques have acknowledged that it is nearly impossible to find evidence showing that displacement has not occurred and this is an inherent weakness of research on displacement (Barr and Pease, 1990; Clarke, 2004). A fuller understanding of displacement effects can be gained by integrating research methodologies. For example, some forms of geographical displacement can be measured by examining crime trends in buffer zones around intervention areas (Gill and Spriggs, 2005) or by looking in detail at offending patterns within intervention areas. Interviewing offenders can provide evidence related to whether interventions cause them to change their offending behaviour either temporally or how they committed crimes.
The Campbell Collaboration (www.campbellcollaboration.org) advocate conducting systematic evaluations on a range of research studies to ‘estimate the average effect size in evaluations’ (Welsh and Farrington, 2008: 12). This type of research does not produce new empirical data but draws together the findings from a range of studies and is referred to as a meta-analysis.
8.3.1.2 Realistic Evaluation
Tilley and Pawson (1997) developed a model of theory driven evaluation called ‘realistic evaluation’ that was centred on finding not only what outcomes were produced from interventions but also ‘how they are produced, and what is significant about the varying conditions in the which the interventions take place’ (Tilley, 2000). Tilley has been critical of quasi-experimental models of evaluation and suggests they fail to effectively identify why interventions work differently across different contexts. Realistic evaluation seeks to find the contextual conditions that make interventions effective therefore developing lessons about how they produce outcomes to inform policy decisions. Tilley outlined three investigative areas that need to be addressed when evaluating the impact of an intervention within any given context.
Mechanism: what is it about a measure which may lead it to have a particular outcome in a given context?
Context: what conditions are needed for a measure to trigger mechanisms to produce particular outcomes patterns?
Outcomes pattern: what are the practical effects produced by causal mechanisms being triggered in a given context?

(Tilley, 1998: 145)
The model involves developing a ‘context mechanism, outcome pattern configurations’ (CMOCs) that allow a researcher to understand ‘what works for whom in what circumstances’ (Tilley, 2000). The generation of CMOCs occurs through consultation with relevant stakeholders responsible for implementing, operating and participating in interventions. The model of evaluation allows the researcher to understand what aspects of an intervention make it effective or ineffective and what contextual factors are needed to replicate the intervention in other areas. Interventions can work in a number of ways within one area and realistic evaluation provides a model to understand the effect being produced by the intervention and crucially for policy development how it can be consistently replicated. Tilley suggested that models need to be developed for replication of interventions and realistic evaluation provides the framework to develop appropriate models:
Realism provided the necessary ingredients for such a model: specification of the crucial contextual conditions for the intervention, the change-inducing mechanisms that will be triggered by the intervention, and the anticipated outcomes pattern that will be generated by triggering these mechanisms. This compromises a ‘context mechanism outcome pattern configuration

(Tilley, 2000: 104)
One of the key strengths of realistic evaluation is the ability to take the lessons learnt from one evaluation and apply them across a range of different contexts. Once the CMOCs are developed they need to be tested and they produce very specific data requirements across the context, mechanisms and outcomes and collecting all the relevant data can be very resource intensive (Gill and Turbin, 1999).
8.3.2 Qualitative Evaluation
Evaluation research often focuses on the outcomes of projects as defined by quantitative data that allows the impact of a project to be measured but to really understand the impact of a project and to discover why a project may have an effect qualitative research is also required. Qualitative research attempts to undercover the ‘subjective realities’ of an intervention by examining how it affects different groups and individuals. Quantitative research looks for ‘a single objective reality’ but qualitative research acknowledges that individuals may experience an intervention differently and the multiple realities need to be documented (Clarke and Dawson, 1999: 39). The role of the researcher is fundamentally different within the context of qualitative research where they get closer to the data often through data collection that involves interaction with subject whilst quantitative research can involve analysis data whilst being removed from the social world that produced the information.
A number of evaluations have investigated the impact of CCTV on crime levels (e.g. Farrington and Walsh, 2002; Gill and Spriggs, 2005) but to fully understand the actual impact of the cameras on offenders their views must be obtained (Gill and Loveday, 2002). Padgett, Bales and Blomberg (2006) investigated how offenders experienced electronically monitored curfews and the qualitative methodology adopted allowed them to develop a better understanding of whether the sanction was more punitive for one group than another and this has implications for criminal justice policy and theory. Security technologies may impact at different levels across areas and have differential impacts across social groups, and these differences can be understood through qualitative data sources. Useful information about the effectiveness and impact of security technologies can be accessed through talking to the subjects of their surveillance.

8.3.3 Theorising on the Impact of Security Technologies
Theory can play a role in evaluation by helping the researcher decide on their methodology and directing them to certain issues and problems (Clarke and Dawson, 1999). It is important to understand the theoretical basis of an intervention so that during an evaluation the theories can be tested. A theoretical framework helps to unpick the relationship between the intervention and its impact.
Within the field of research in security technologies theory has been used as a framework to examine the real and potential impact of interventions. Many of the technologies have the potential to impact on large sections of society and, rather than waiting to evaluate the impact of these interventions once they have been implemented, academics have sought to theorise about their potential effects. General social theories have been used as a framework to examine the potential effects of security technologies ‘either with whole societies and the processes involved in their development, or with very general aspects of social reality such as the relationship between agency and structure or macro and micro level of analysis’ (Layder, 1998: 14 quoted in Bottoms, 2000). Academics examining the impact of surveillance technologies, such as CCTV and biometrics, have turned to Foucault’s general social theory and used the themes of power and the increase of disciplinary mechanism throughout society as a framework to discuss the influence of the technologies (Koskela, 2003; Yar, 2003). Ball and Haggerty (2005: 134) suggest that:
... surveillance based research highlights the power relations inherent in surveillance practices: power relationships that concern an organisation’s ability to watch in an unproblematic and unchallenged way.
Many of the global security technologies used to monitor individuals, are comparatively secret and individuals may not be aware of the impact upon their lives, therefore academic research utilises theoretical material to document some of the potential consequences of the technologies. Research into the impact of security technologies is transdisciplinary and theoretical models have been utilised from a number of research fields. For example, Ackleson (2005) explored the social, economic and political impact of deploying security technologies across the United States borders and used Birkland’s “focussing event” framework to examine the ‘postcrisis policy formulation process’ that drove the growth of the technologies. Theorising about the actual and potential impact of security technologies has allowed academics to engage in debate about how security technologies impact on issues such as ‘equity, fairness, justice, and respect for a person in a digitally mediated world’ (Ball and Haggerty, 2005:131) which moves the debate about security technologies beyond whether they are effective or not.
A number of different methods of examining the real and potential impact of security technologies have been outlined above. Academic debate will continue around the various merits of different research methodologies but it is essential that research methodologies meet the specific objectives of research projects. The types of issues being investigated should define the research design adopted and often different models of evaluation have been integrated to provide a full picture of an intervention’s impact (e.g. Gill and Spriggs, 2005). Some of the research issues examined above are revisited in the context of the security technologies discussed below.



8.4 Surveillance and CCTV
8.4.1 Growth of CCTV
Across the developed countries of the world today surveillance is part of everyday life and this has led to the acknowledgement that the UK is part of a surveillance society (Ball et al, 2006). The UK has experienced a massive growth in CCTV since the 1980s and this was initially based on the assumption that CCTV was a panacea for crime and disorder (Norris and Armstrong, 1999). The discussion below explores some of the key debates that have emerged regarding the growth of CCTV and then moves onto explore the effectiveness of CCTV as a tool to address crime and disorder, and the impact of CCTV on fear of crime.
The UK leads the world in the use of CCTV (House of Lords, 2009) driven by political support from both Conservative and Labour administrations. CCTV was perceived as an answer to the rising crime rates experienced during the 1980s and was attractive to government because it met its ‘ideological demands for privatisation of the public sector’ (McCahill and Norris, 2002a: 12). Involving the private sector reduced costs for local councils. New Labour used CCTV to develop an image of being ‘tough on crime’ and moved away from previous accusations of being soft on crime and anti-police as they had been in the 1970s and 1980s (Reiner 1992 quoted in McCahill and Norris 2002a).
Central Government instigated the growth of CCTV in the UK by making funding available for local areas to bid for CCTV capital grants. Funding initially came from the CCTV challenge competition run between 1994 and 1999 that made £38.5 million available and this was allocated across 585 schemes nationwide (Home Office, 2007). The Home Office funded Crime Reduction Programme (CRP) ran between 1999 and 2003, and resulted in the investment of £170 million of capital funding into CCTV development (Home Office, 2007). Clearly the Government viewed CCTV as an effective means of protecting the public and during the 1990s 78 percent of the Home Office crime prevention budget was spent on implementing CCTV and a further £500 million of public money was spent on CCTV between 2000 and 2006 (House of Lords, 2009).
McCahill and Norris (2003) estimated that there were approximately 4.3 million cameras in the UK but police investigations suggest that this may be an over-estimation (Home Office, 2007). The explosion of CCTV in the UK was not informed by an evidence-based approach that provided a comprehensive basis to inform where and how CCTV should be implemented. The ad hoc and unregulated nature of CCTV growth has produced a range of public CCTV systems that have different roles and levels of effectiveness (see below). Government funding played a crucial part in the escalation of CCTV in the UK but other key issues galvanised the growth and these are discussed below.
The bidding process that followed the release of funding allocated by government for CCTV (see above) was built around the rise of the multi-agency approach to crime prevention and reflected ‘the drive towards new modes of governance in local crime control through the encouragement of local coalitions between police, private security, retailers, property developers, local government and insurance companies’ (Colman and Sim, 1998: 28). The Crime and Disorder Act (CDA) (1998) had a major impact on CCTV policy contents and ‘galvanised many existing informal arrangements and contained the first official and legal obligation for the creation of multi-agency crime control partnerships’ (Fussey, 2004). The CDA and the Crime Reduction Strategy focused the work of partnerships on crime control but also public safety, tackling low level disorder and reduction in fear of crime. CCTV is perhaps a unique crime prevention strategy that manages to fulfil the diverse aims set out by the government (Fussey, 2004). The popularity of CCTV is due in part to its wide ranging uses that extend from a situational crime prevention method to facilitating reductions in fear of crime. Whether CCTV is effective across these different uses are discussed below.
Often partnerships bidding for CCTV funding did not have a clear idea of local crime and disorder problems or how CCTV would work to combat the problems. Many partnerships viewed CCTV as a desirable improvement to any area and were under pressure from communities to implement CCTV (Gill et al, 2003). Areas may have been motivated to implement CCTV due to the proliferation of other local areas gaining CCTV and the anticipation that crime may be displaced from areas under CCTV surveillance to their local area (Williams and Johnson, 2000). Partnerships were drawn towards CCTV funding through the financial backing of central government and often more lucrative regeneration grants ‘required the provision of a “safe” environment’ and to many local authorities CCTV fitted this purpose (Williams and Johnson, 2000: 189). CCTV has also been implemented as a counter terrorism measure and this has been the primary objective of some systems such as the ‘Ring of Steel’ erected in London after the Bishopgate bombing (McCahill and Norris, 2003) but also formed part of the rational behind implementing CCTV across other public spaces (Gill et al, 2005b). Pressure to access grants meant that CCTV was prioritised and a detailed analysis of what might work locally to address crime and disorder issues was not undertaken.
Fussey (2004) examined some of the ‘structural’ influences of partnerships that can impact on objective and rational policy making. The police often have an elevated position in current partnership arrangements and this is significant in terms of CCTV as they consistently stress the importance of ‘situational and enforcement’ tactics when tackling crime and disorder. Conflict often arises in partnerships due to conflicting performance indicators or working cultures (Crawford, 1997). Therefore partnerships are drawn to CCTV as a popular strategy with universal appeal but there is little evidence that CCTV was identified through a rational approach that matched local needs to CCTV. Public consultation tends to indicate low-level disorder as problematic and this can ‘heighten and legitimise public pressure for CCTV implementation’ (Fussey, 2004: 262) as local communities consistently request CCTV. The public support of CCTV also leads elected members to favour it as it acts as a public demonstration that crime is being tackled and communities are being listened to. The widespread support of CCTV across the different groups discussed above is not based on robust evaluation and implementing CCTV is an easy win for practitioners because, even if reductions in crime and anti-social behaviour are not achieved, they are seen to be doing something. CCTV is highly visible unlike other offender centred approaches (e.g. drug rehabilitation centres and prisons) and can present the media with positive stories that are reinforced through the use of recorded images from the CCTV (McCahill, 2003).
The increase in CCTV surveillance across the UK led to academic debate about the impact of surveillance and one of the key themes that has been consistently revisited through the literature has been the Panopticon. This was a model prison designed by Jeremy Bentham which worked on the premise that prisoners could be controlled if they thought they were being potentially watched from a central control tower (McCahill and Norris, 2002). The increase in new surveillance technology has been seen as one of the symptoms of a transition from ‘modernity’ to ‘postmodernity’ and the spread of measurements, such as CCTV, is viewed as a sign of the ‘dispersal of discipline’ into public areas (Norris and McCahill, 2006). CCTV does not represent a mechanism for targeting known individuals who pose a risk to society but facilitates monitoring of ‘geographical spaces, time periods and categories of people’ (Norris and McCahill, 2006: 103). Norris and McCahill viewed CCTV as an actuarial technique that can be used to prevent future crimes rather than manage past crimes and this is one of the features that sets it apart from previous crime control tools.
8.4.2 CCTV effectiveness and Context
When the Government funded the massive growth in CCTV across the UK there was no body of research to justify and guide the implementation of CCTV (Ditton and Short, 1999; Farrington and Walsh, 2002). Subsequently the effectiveness of CCTV across a number of contexts has been explored and research has started to establish an evidence base for where and how CCTV can be effective. Many of the studies into CCTV have produced contradictory results due to variations in the circumstances of the introduction of CCTV leading to varying effects (Tilley, 1998).
Research that utilises the scientific realism approach developed by Pawson and Tilley (1997) tried to identify how CCTV works and specifically in what contexts (see 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) are as follows:


  • Caught in the act - CCTV could reduce crime by increasing the likelihood that present offenders will be caught, stopped, removed, punished and therefore deterred.

  • You’ve been framed - CCTV could reduce crime by deterring potential offenders who will not want to be observed by CCTV operators or have evidence against them captured on camera.

  • Nosey Parker - a reduction could take place because more natural surveillance is encouraged as more people use the area covered by CCTV. This may deter offenders who fear an increased risk of apprehension.

  • Effective deployment - CCTV may facilitate the effective deployment of security staff and police officers to locations where suspicious behaviour is occurring. Their presence may deter offenders, or may mean they are caught in the act.

  • Publicity (general) - this may assist in deterring offenders.

  • Publicity (specific) - CCTV cameras and signs show people are taking crime seriously, and thus offenders may be deterred.

  • Time for Crime - CCTV may have less of an impact on crimes that can be done quickly as opposed to those that take a longer time, as offenders assume that they will have enough time to avoid the cameras, or to escape from police officers and security staff.

  • Memory jogging - publicity about CCTV encourages potential victims to be more security conscious and to take precautionary measures.

  • Appeal to the cautious - those who are more security minded use the areas with CCTV, driving out the more careless who are vulnerable to crime elsewhere.

The list above represents a starting point to consider how CCTV can impact on crime and numerous other mechanisms can be developed across a range of settings and offence types (Ratcliffe, 2006). Coupe and Kaur (2005) examined the impact of CCTV and alarms in detecting commercial burglary and they highlighted the complex interplay of mechanisms that can result in CCTV impacting on crime and how different crime prevention measures can have conflicting mechanism.


CCTV can provide evidence on film that leads to arrest, while visible CCTV cameras like alarms, may also deter burglars or displace them to other targets. In addition, visible or hidden CCTV cameras may alert a watchman or employee to the commission of a crime. On the other hand, activated alarms may frighten burglars so that they quickly flee the scene, reducing not only capture there, but also, where CCTV is additionally fitted inside the premises, of a subsequent arrest by catching the offender on film.
(Coupe and Kaur 2005: 53)

Sivarajasingam, Shepherd and Matthews (2003) examined the impact of CCTV in town/city centres and detailed how theoretically the cameras may impact on levels of violent crime:
Perpetrators may be detected and removed; CCTV may deter potential offenders who perceive an increased risk of detection; CCTV may direct security personnel to locations where precursors to offending have been detected, which may head off their translation into crime and reduce the severity of harm; CCTV could symbolise efforts to take crime seriously, and the perception of those efforts may both energise law abiding citizens and/or deter crime. The presence of CCTV may induce people to take elementary precautions, for fear that they will be shamed by being shown on CCTV.
(Sivarajasingam et al, 2003: 315)

The mechanisms outlined above highlight the potential problems of using recorded crimes rates to evaluate the impact of CCTV as the different mechanisms can have conflicting effects on crime rates (Ditton and Short, 1999: 212; Ratcliffe, 2006, Gill et al, 2007: 24). Although CCTV will not increase actual levels of crime the increased surveillance may result in more offences coming to the attention of the police, particularly violent offending (Brown, 1995). Using disaggregated crime data that identifies changes across individual offence types can help to understand the impact of CCTV across a target area. The range of additional crime reduction measures that often operate alongside CCTV system make if difficult to isolate the impact of the cameras and these can include changes to policing practices (Webb and Laycock, 1992), ad hoc police operations, improved lighting, community wardens and youth inclusion projects (Gill et al, 2007). Using crime statistics alone to evaluate CCTV means that many of the potential benefits of the cameras can be missed including supporting police activity leading to cost savings in relation to police time, increased detection rates, court time and the increased level of guilty pleas and guilty verdicts obtained when CCTV evidence in available (Home Office, 2007).

CCTV can work on a number of different levels across a range of different contexts and this has resulted in mixed research findings in terms of CCTV effectiveness. Welsh and Farrington (2002) conducted a meta-analysis on studies of CCTV effectiveness and collected 46 studies but only considered 22 of the research papers to be rigorous enough for inclusion in their review. Half (eleven) of the studies found a desirable effect on crime, five found an undesirable effect on crime, five found a null effect, and one was classified as an uncertain effect. The largest impact on CCTV was found across car parks where there was evidence that crime reduced by 41% in the experimental compared to control area, which was significant. The research identified that CCTV had little or no effect on violent crime but the authors advocated the need for more high quality research that ‘established the causal mechanism by which CCTV has any effect on crime’ which should involve methodologically rigorous evaluations and interviewing offenders. A further meta-analysis of CCTV studies conducted in 2008 by Walsh and Farrington the confirmed earlier findings that CCTV was effective in car parks and they advocated narrowing the use of CCTV to reflect research findings related to its effectiveness.


The Home Office’s National Evaluation of CCTV (Gill and Spriggs, 2005) attempted to address some of the deficiencies identified in previous CCTV evaluations by combining a process and impact evaluation that incorporated control areas and identified other crime control initiatives that were operating in the target area to evaluate their impact on recorded crime levels. Thirteen CCTV systems were evaluated across a range of system including town centres, city centres, car parks, hospital and residential areas. The inclusion of residential areas reflected the governments push to include these types of areas into the Phase 2 of the Crime Reduction Programme (Home Office, 2007). The main findings were:
Out of the 13 systems evaluated six showed a relatively substantial reduction in crime in the target area compared with the control area, but only two showed a statistically significant reduction relative to the control area, and in one of these cases the change could be explained by the presence of confounding variables. Crime increased in seven areas but this could not be attributed to CCTV. The findings in these seven areas were inconclusive as a range of variables accounted for the changes in crime levels, including fluctuations in crime caused by seasonal, divisional and national trends and additional initiatives.
(Gill and Spriggs, 2005i)

The quotation above highlights the difficulties in obtaining a true picture of the impact of CCTV schemes given the complex environments where they often operate. 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. CCTV should not be implemented as a stand alone crime prevention tool but needs to be integrated into prevention measures already in place and operate alongside local police structures to create rapid responses to incidents and effective use of images for evidential purposes.
Research has found mixed results regarding the effectiveness of CCTV but what has emerged is a body of literature that has started to identify the specific context where CCTV works and types of mechanisms that need to be in place. Brown (1995) found that in certain circumstances CCTV can make a positive contribution to addressing crime and this was reliant on CCTV being used by the police as an integral part of a command and control strategy. The research highlighted the deterrent effects of CCTV but suggested that CCTV must also be used to effectively manage police resources through rapid responses to incidents. Brown found that the use of CCTV in Newcastle and King’s Lynn resulted in a reduction in recorded crime particularly across burglary, criminal damage and vehicle crime offences. The research found CCTV had no overall impact in Birmingham on crime levels (Brown, 1995: 46). Research indicated that the layout of the streets has an impact on the ability of CCTV to detect crime and areas with less side streets and more long straight roads more conducive to CCTV (see also Gill et al 2005b).
Ditton and Short (1999) found that recorded crime fell and detections rose after CCTV was implemented in Airdrie but in Glasgow recorded crime increased and detection increased. The research found a differential effect of the cameras across crime type with drug offences, low-level public order and minor traffic violations increasing whilst various forms of acquisitive crime fell. Airdrie is a little town where awareness and a sense of ownership of the cameras were high compared to Glasgow where the cameras merged into the structure of the city, and these situational differences may have impacted on the effect of the cameras.
Most evaluations of CCTV in town/city centres have used recorded crime and found that cameras had very little impact on violent crime (Gill and Spriggs, 2005) but through the use of accident and emergency data Sivarajasingam et al (2003) found that the ‘effectiveness of CCTV lies less in preventing assaults and their precursor, but more in preventing injury through increased police detection and intervention’ (ibid: 315). CCTV was found to increase police detection but was associated with reductions in the seriousness of violent incidents. There was no evidence of the deterrent effect of CCTV in relation to violent crime but the effectiveness of CCTV within this context is related to surveillance facilitating a faster police response that limits the length of violent incidents and therefore the severity of injuries.
The body of CCTV research literature emphasises that it is more effective in relatively simple target areas with clear lines of sight. CCTV has been shown to reduce crime in car parks (Tilley, 1993; Gill and Spriggs, 2005) and this may be partly explained by the cameras monitoring an environment where access and egress can be carefully monitored. CCTV in car parks has reduced crime by acting primarily as a deterrent and this mechanism has been facilitated by clear CCTV signage and the visibility of the cameras (Gill and Spriggs, 2005). The impact on ‘theft of’ and ‘theft from’ motor vehicles was different with a larger positive impact across ‘theft of’ offences which may be due to these types of offences taking longer and offenders having to drive out of exits monitored by cameras (Tilley, 1993).
CCTV systems rarely work in isolation and often form part of a crime prevention strategy. Webb and Laycock (1992) found evidence that CCTV can reduce robberies on the London Underground but the cameras were part of a package of measures to reduce crime in the area that made it difficult to identify the impact of the cameras alone. The research concluded that ‘CCTV does not seem to be very useful in large complex and crowded environments to deal with surreptitious behaviour such as pick pocketing or shoplifting’ (Webb and Laycock, 1992: 23) as the quick nature of the offences made it unlikely that they would be picked up by operators. Given that it was unlikely offenders would be detected by the cameras their effectiveness was mainly linked to whether offenders associated the cameras with an increased risk of getting caught on the London Underground.
CCTV is a type of situational crime prevention and is often used to facilitate a change in the behaviour of offenders. Mayhew (1984) suggested that formal surveillance would deter potential offenders and this follows the rational choice theory perspective (Clarke and Felson, 1993) that proposes offenders act in a rational manner and by calculating whether the perceived benefits outweigh the cost in a given situation. The application of the deterrent effect of CCTV to routine activity theory means that the presence of CCTV can be perceived to act as the capable guardian and therefore demotivate offenders. The majority of CCTV systems rely on the deterrent effect of the cameras but the deterrent is often symbolic and ‘more or less incompetent deterrence because cameras are highly visible but those under surveillance are hardly visible for an observer due to irregular monitoring, informational overkill or even deployment of dummy cameras’ (Hempel and Topfer, 2004: 33).
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. Allard, Wortley and Steward (2008) examined whether the presence of CCTV in prisons reduced the number of incidents that were defined as ‘breaches of law or rules that may result in criminal prosecution or breach hearings and emergencies’. The research found that CCTV had a greater impact on non-violent than violent prisoner misbehaviour and affected planned behaviour to a greater extent than unplanned behaviour. The spontaneous nature of violence means that the deterrent effect of CCTV can be removed and it tends to be more ‘effective when behaviour is motivated’ (Allard et al, 2008: 416).
Research into public space CCTV has identified similar patterns and indicated that CCTV 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. Tilley (1993: 24) suggested that ‘when the real potential of CCTV to lead to apprehension loses credibility amongst criminals, the effect will begin to fade, though by (over)-statement of successes periodic effectiveness can be re-established’. The positive impact of CCTV on levels of robbery in the London Underground was found to fade over time and this may have been due to offenders discovering that the CCTV did not increase the risk of being caught (Webb and Laycock, 1992: 15). High camera density and quality lighting may increase the perceived risk for offenders (Gill et al, 2007). Research indicates that only by combining the different mechanism by which CCTV works (Armitage, et al, 1999, Tilley 1993, Gill and Spriggs, 2005) and integrating other crime prevention measures can the optimal use of CCTV occur and research is currently building the evidence base to fully understand where and how the mechanisms work.
CCTV does not create a physical barrier to crime and therefore can rely to a large extent on changing offenders’ behaviour. Therefore key to the success of CCTV is offenders’ views regarding its effectiveness. Evaluations that use crime levels to investigate the impact of CCTV on offenders need to be supplemented with offender interview based research to develop a full picture of how CCTV can be utilised fully to address criminal behaviour (Farrington and Walsh, 2002; Gill and Loveday, 2003). Gill and Loveday interviewed 77 convicted offenders in prison and the general consensus amongst those interviewed was that they did not worry about CCTV but there was evidence that some offenders chose to take precautions against the cameras by wearing clothes that hid their identity or offended in camera blind spots. Many of the offenders committed ‘swift offences’ and therefore believed that police notified by the cameras would not arrive in time to apprehend them (see also Short and Ditton, 1998). Roughly half the sample of offenders believed that CCTV increased the risk of getting caught but those that had been caught by CCTV perceived it as more of a threat. There was a lack of understanding amongst the offenders regarding image quality and how the images could be used to increase detection. 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.
8.4.3 How CCTV operates
CCTV systems are not homogenous and, due to differences across management structures, operation procedures and the technological capabilities of the systems, they have levels of effectiveness in relation to combating crime (Gill and Spriggs, 2005). There is not scope within this unit for a full examination of the operational factors that impact on CCTV effectiveness therefore the following four themes developed by Machill and Norris (2002c: 44-46) will be used to draw out some of the factors that influence the impact of CCTV.
Diversity: One cannot make any generalisations about the extent, nature and impact of CCTV surveillance from the mere existence of a system. CCTV systems have diverse operating procedures, staffing policies and levels of technological sophistication.
The surveillance web: There is an increasing tendency for systems to become embedded in a complex social and technological web of surveillance which extends and diffuses the impact of the gaze of the surveillance to a range of other controls.

The human mediation of technology: The operation and impact of systems have to be understood as the outcome of the interplay between technological, organisational and cultural factors.
Exclusion: The growth of CCTV in semi-private spaces brings with it an increasing emphasis on exclusion as the dominant strategy of social control.
The four themes above will be used below as a framework to explore how CCTV systems differ and how their presence is experienced by individuals across their zones of surveillance.
8.4.3.1 Diversity
CCTV systems can vary in a number of ways from the technological specifications of the system to the human element in the system that directs the surveillance. This led authors from the Urbaneye Project to conclude that CCTV’s ‘operation and impact have to be understood as the outcome of the interplay between technological, organisational and cultural factors’ (Hempel and Topfer, 2004: 1). The previous statement highlights the need to conduct a process evaluation as part of any CCTV evaluation to help identify the exact mechanisms that make systems effective or hinder their operation.
On a basic level the type of surveillance that occurs across systems can be divided into passive systems – where images are simple recorded and can be assessed to provide evidence retrospectively; and active systems – where a person monitors a series of displays and often has the ability to manipulate the cameras (McCahill and Norris, 2002b; Ratcliffe, 2006). Images are usually recorded 24 hours a day but some systems do not provide live monitoring services 24 hours a day (Gill and Spriggs, 2005; Wilson, 2005) and the nature of CCTV monitoring means that it is not possible for operators to continuously watch the screens (Armstrong and Norris, 1999).
Obviously the position of cameras is central to the success of schemes and there are often problems with cameras being obstructed (Brown, 2002; Smith, 2004; Gill and Spriggs, 2005; Conche and Tight, 2006), blind spots within the cameras target areas (Gill et al, 2005b), adverse weather conditions impacting on image quality (Mazerolle et al, 2002) and poor light levels (Smith, 2004). Cameras are positioned to address crime hotspots but the problems may subsequently move, reducing the effectiveness of cameras (Home Office 2007). Crime patterns across areas are not stable and can change as a result of a myriad of factors including changes to policing, types of offenders, seasonal variations and changes in the make up of areas. To be effective as a crime reduction tool CCTV should be adaptable and ultimately re-deployable to emerging crime hot-spots (McCahill and Norris, 2002: 52). The picture quality of images varies and the evidence from the Home Office suggests that 80 per cent of images supplied to the police may not be of a suitable standard therefore reducing their effectiveness as an identification tool for suspects or as an evidential tool in court (Home Office, 2007: 12).
There are dramatic differences across control rooms related to the management of systems and cultures across operators. CCTV managers can come from a range of backgrounds and their CCTV responsibilities can form only part of their role (Gill and Spriggs, 2005). The lack of effective management in control rooms has lead operators to develop their own styles of monitoring and work patterns (McCahill and Norris 2002c: 36; Lomwell, Saetnam and Wiecek, 2003). There is inadequate training of CCTV operators (Gill et al 2005; McCahill and Norris 2002c) and although the Security Industry Authority (SIA) licensing regime has been implemented from 2006 there is no obligation for operators to get the license which leads to a range of abilities across CCTV staff (Home Office, 2007). Training can be in-house and result in bad habits being passed from one operator to another and compounding the ineffective monitoring practices present in a control room (Smith, 2004; Gill et al, 2005a).
The types of groups that are categorised as problematic by operators depends on the target area under surveillance and may be influenced by national prejudices. Operators in a Berlin Shopping Mall identified suspicious groups as:
school children/teenagers, men, alcoholics, homeless and mostly foreigners, especially southern Europeans such as Turks or eastern Europeans such as Romany (Gypsies), Poles and Romanians
(Helton and Fischer, 2004: 340)

There has been extensive research conducted related to target selection for CCTV operators and variations across systems were found with between 71 per cent and 93 per cent of targets being male (Norris and Armstrong, 1999; McCahill, 2002; McCahill and Norris 2002c). Race has been shown to be a factor in the selection of targets by operators with some operators targeting black males (Norris and Armstrong, 1999; Williams and Johnson, 2000; Smith, 2004). Operators have been shown to target certain dress codes that to them represent ‘subcultures associated with crime and deviance’ (Smith, 2004: 386). The make up of the population using surveillance areas has an impact on who is targeted but even when research has controlled for the demographic profile of who is using an area, it was found that that young scruffy males were most likely to be monitored (Williams, 2007).
The use of categorical suspicion based on a narrow range of observable traits rather than behavioural suspicions has been encouraged by the ‘sensory limitations of the video screens and the distance between the observers and the observed’ (Hempel and Topfer, 2004). The operators have no personal contact with the target they observe and are reduced to interpreting bodily movement from a two dimension image therefore the routine of surveillance ‘makes the exercise of power almost instinctive: people are controlled, categorised, disciplined and normalised without any particular reason’ (Koskela, 2002). The cameras are not effective at picking up many types of deviant behaviour that are not visually recognisable, including cases of harassment (Koskela, 2002: 255), and the inability of the cameras to offer operators a full sensory experience of incidents may incline operators to follow their preconceived notions about suitable targets for surveillance.
Research has explored how the potential discriminatory use of CCTV can be tackled. Wilson (2005) examined CCTV systems across four sites in Australia and proposed that ‘more systematic and uniform training of camera operators, incorporating instruction in the ethical conduct of surveillance might reduce the discriminatory potential of CCTV in public places’. Surette (2005:158) considered the use of computer enhanced self-monitoring CCTV systems that can be used to detect ‘unusual behaviour, unauthorised traffic or surprising and unexpected behaviour and alert a human operator’. The computer aided systems can reduce some of the negative human factors that reduce the effectiveness of CCTV surveillance including data swamping, boredom, voyeurism and selectively targeting people based on which social group they belong to. The behavioural analysis capabilities of the computer enhanced systems rely on systems recognising target behaviours of interest. Troscianko, Holmes, Stillman, Mirmehdi, Wright and Wilson (2004) found that observers were able to make accurate judgements about whether antisocial and violent incidents were about to be carried out by individual or groups. Certain behaviours acted as cues that allowed prediction of deviant acts and this lends strength to the argument that it may be possible to design computer systems that can recognise potentially antisocial or criminal behaviour. The study points to the potential of CCTV to be an effective means of identifying inappropriate behaviour but relies on operators focusing on behavioural patterns within surveillance areas and not selecting targets based on the appearance of individuals.

8.4.3.2 The Human Mediation of Technology
CCTV systems can be used to monitor target areas but if systems are to increase detection of crime they rely on those responsible for authoritative intervention within their zones of surveillance. Public space CCTV systems often depend on the working relationships formed across crime and disorder partnerships and the link between the control room and police is critical (Home Office, 2007). The ownership and management of CCTV system varies across systems (Wilson, 2007) which can have a massive impact on the effectiveness of cameras and ‘there exist some real shortcomings in the effectiveness of working relationships between CCTV stakeholders’ (Home Office, 2007: 43).
The full engagement of the police can be crucial to the success of a CCTV system but responding to intelligence supplied through CCTV systems can put a strain on police resources that may already be overstretched which can produce limited police involvement (Honess and Charman, 1992; Gill et al, 2006). Areas with high CCTV coverage provide the police with the potential to gather evidence but there are issues concerning their capacity to collect and review all relevant evidence (Home Office, 2007). When CCTV control rooms are operated or located within police stations this increases the interaction between CCTV operators and officers leading to greater intelligence sharing (Brown, 1995; Lomell, et al 2006; McCahill and Norris 2002c). Many CCTV systems are managed by local authorities and can cover extensive areas across a range of different contexts and are ‘often loosely integrated with deployment forces’ (Hempel and Topfer, 2004: 38). Police forces are inundated with requests that require police resources, particularly at peak times such as Friday and Saturday nights in City Centres, and requests from CCTV operators are often not prioritised above other incidents leading to weak working relationships between CCTV control room operators and police (Gill et al, 2005a).
Wilson (2005:48) documented a number of issues linked to police operating CCTV systems and indicated that monitoring cameras was not an appropriate duty for police personnel and they can be more effectively deployed on ‘core policing duties’. Police use of the cameras may result in ‘function creep’ as officers take advantage of the system to intelligence gather or officers may view monitoring as a low priority leading to the systems becoming reactive as opposed to a proactive detection tool. An officer working in conjunction with operators at peak times to elicit rapid responses to incidents has been shown to be an effective working model (Wilson, 2005 Gill and Spriggs, 2005). The police need to be fully engaged prior to the commissioning of a CCTV scheme and during the implementation phase to ensure they engage in the day to day operation practices of a CCTV system and it is important that local authorities or other bodies running control rooms establish the roles of the control room staff and police.
8.4.3.3 The Surveillance Web
CCTV systems are used for a diverse range of operations and this can distract operators from surveillance of areas for the purpose of combating crime. Operators can be responsible for a range of responsibilities beyond monitoring the cameras and these may be prioritised above monitoring the cameras, so much so that in one study examining surveillance practices watching the cameras was equated with laziness (Helton and Fischer, 2004). Systems that employ fixed cameras require passive monitoring and are usually set up to collect retrospective evidence for incidents, therefore operators will normally carry out more administrative tasks (Gill and Spriggs, 2005; Wilson, 2005). Additional uses of cameras beyond addressing crime and disorder can include ‘street cleaning’ and ‘traffic management’ (McCahill and Norris, 2002). Research by Mackay across CCTV systems in Scotland found that CCTV was being utilised to perform a range of community safety tasks and the expanding uses of the systems have partly been driven by the finding that ‘crime reduction is no longer regarded as an outcome that can be accomplished by public space CCTV systems’. The research found that CCTV is being used as an information system and the benefits for the police as ‘a management tool’ and ‘a source of archive evidence’ (2006: 131).
CCTV has not been found to result in massive reductions in levels of crime or proved a catalyst for regeneration, therefore systems are moving towards community safety concerns linked to addressing low level disorder and improving quality of life for residents. Cameras have been used to facilitate crime and disorder partnership work to address vandalism and anti-social behaviour. In some areas CCTV systems have evolved beyond assisting the police and this trend has been encouraged by the CDA which ‘positively encouraged diversification of services’ (Mackay, 2006: 133). An additional factor that has lead to systems expanding beyond crime reduction has been the financial cost of maintaining CCTV systems. The Home Office provided capital funding to implement a range of CCTV but revenue funding was not made available and this has put a strain on the ability of some local authorities to maintain and expand systems (CCTV Today, 2001 quoted in McCahill and Norris, 2002).
8.4.4.4 Exclusion
The city centre partnership arrangements that underpinned the expansion of CCTV into many city centres included private business stakeholders and this, along with the regeneration agendas that were often being pursed across the areas, contributed to the ways that surveillance has been utilised across urban space. Coleman and Sims (1998, 2000) examined the operation of CCTV in Liverpool city centre to explore a number of political and sociological questions and their analysis highlights how CCTV within a partnership approach is ‘reshaping the material and discursive forms of the city’ (Coleman and Sim, 2000: 1). The regeneration of Liverpool in the 1990s occurred with increasing emphasis being given to neo-liberal politics brought together public and private agencies through flexible institutional arrangements (Coleman and Sims, 2000: 625). The elite partnerships in Liverpool developed a ‘local ordering strategy’ which resulted in a conception of power that was driven by the interest of consumerism.
Williams and Johnson (2000: 183) referred to ‘the politics of the selective gaze’ and they saw CCTV as helping to ‘create and enforce socio-spatial divisions within and between towns and amongst those that use the open streets of the surveilled places’. CCTV cameras can facilitate the exclusion of certain groups from public spaces that lead to it being used as a ‘tool designed to ensure continued economic vitality of urban spaces’ (Williams and Johnson, 2000: 194). The research has suggested some surveillance systems being used for ‘policing profit’ not safety (Smith, 1998) and the pressures of managing the ‘entrepreneurial city’ means classifying people according to their economic purchasing power leading to the possibility of surveillance being used as a ‘tool of social exclusion’ (Hempel and Topfer, 2004: 39). Individuals have to conform to certain behaviour norms to participate in the life of a city centre being driven by leisure and consumption needs and this goes against the notions of a city centre being areas that bring together different social groups and symbolise diversity. The removal of the ‘social richness of public places’ sanitises the public realm and could lead people to become less tolerant and accepting of different social groups (Reeve, 1998).
8.4.4 Perception of CCTV
CCTV systems are often implemented to reassure the public (Webb and Laycock, 1992; Machill and Norris, 2002c; Gill and Spriggs, 2005, 2007; Ratcliffe, 2006). Research into public support for CCTV has produced mixed results with many studies finding widespread support for CCTV (Bennett and Gelsthorpe, 1996; Honess and Charman, 1992; Gill and Spriggs, 2005; Hempel and Topfer, 2004) but others highlighted that levels of support may be overstated (Ditton and Short, 1999; Ditton, 2000). The impact of CCTV cameras on fear of crime is context specific and is influenced by the socio-demographic make-up of the respondents with males and young people more concerned about the growth in CCTV (Charman and Honess, 1992; Ditton, 2000: 700). The presence of cameras does not necessarily reduce fear of crime. The cameras are designed to increase offender’s perceptions of risk but their presence can act as a warning sign to citizens about the dangers of crime.
If CCTV cameras are to reduce fear of crime then the public must be aware of the cameras’ presence. Ditton (2000) found that 33 per cent of individuals in Glasgow city centre were aware of the presence of cameras and this increased to only 41 per cent 15 months after installation. Gill and Spriggs (2005) found that across eleven CCTV target areas the percentage of respondents that were aware of the cameras varied between 61 per cent and 97 per cent. Small residential schemes were found to result in high levels of awareness and city centres had the lowest awareness where the cameras may not be noticeable amongst the dense street furniture. The research found that respondents who were aware of the cameras expressed higher levels of worry about crime than those who were not. The presence of the cameras may be interpreted as a sign that the areas are problematic or people who are aware of the cameras may be more security conscious.
Public attitude surveys conducted into CCTV have produced contradictory findings and shown that the support for CCTV is not based on a belief that CCTV is an effective crime-fighting tool. Results from the Urbaneye research project showed that a London based survey revealed that 40.6 per cent of respondents agreed that CCTV displaced crime and under half the respondents (46.6 per cent) believed it protects against serious crime (McCahill and Norris, 2002c). Other public worries regarding CCTV were linked to operators possible abusing the system, the system being used in a covert way, a general unease at being watched, CCTV evidence could be misleading and an erosion of civil liberties (Charman and Honess, 1992).
The installation of CCTV does not appear to have a significant impact on the behaviour of the public with between 2 per cent and 7 per cent of individuals visiting places they previously avoided before CCTV was implemented (Gill and Spriggs, 2005) but, given many systems are poor at detecting incidents and producing a rapid response, the inability of the cameras to change how the public use areas may be viewed as a positive.
In residential areas support for and confidence in the cameras’ effectiveness reduced once the cameras were implemented leading to the conclusion ‘that CCTV was far more appealing in theory than it proved in practice’ (Gill et al, 2007: 322). As the public become more familiar with the cameras and are increasingly aware that the methods by which CCTV can lower crime are often limited their high expectations of the cameras’ abilities may be challenged. Research has highlighted conflicting ways that CCTV can influence fear of crime by acting as a sign that people live in or have accessed a high crime area but they may also be reassured that something is being done about the crime problems. Koskela (2002: 259) stated that ‘to be under surveillance is an ambivalent event’ and this results from the paradox that ‘cameras can make people feel both more secure and more fearful.
The media has played a major part in the widespread public acceptance of CCTV. Events such as the abduction of Jamie Bulgar thrust CCTV images into the public spotlight and the ‘panoptic impulse was strikingly apparent: more surveillance, tighter security’ (Hier, 2003: 404). The images of the young boy being lead away ‘crystallise fears about public safety’ creating public support for the explosion of CCTV during the 1990s (Machill and Norris, 2002a). There have been other high profile cases where CCTV images have assisted in the identification of perpetrators including the Brixton nail bomber in 1999, individuals involved in the terrorist incidents in London during 2005 (Home Office, 2007: 7) and the Soham murder cases.
Managers implementing CCTV have often kept the local media involved in the process and fed positive material to the media regarding the development of systems (Honess and Charman, 1992). Machill and Norris (2002) found that 47% of CCTV related media coverage was positive and media support was found for cameras being used to tackle offending behaviour but negative coverage included cameras being used against the general public in the form of speed cameras or being used to monitor employees. Given the important role that the media play in forming public opinions their support for CCTV in the context of crime fighting helps explain the positive public perception of cameras and the public acceptance of cameras as part of everyday life. CCTV schemes have identified using images of individuals apprehended through the use of cameras as a method of raising the profile of cameras and reassuring the public but identifying suitable cases can be difficult (Gill et al, 2005a)
Through the introduction of neighbourhood policing across the UK, and following recommendations proposed by the Casey Review (Cabinet Office, 2008), the Government tried to make the work of the police and the criminal justice system increasingly visible to communities with the aim of increasing peoples’ confidence in these agencies. The nature of CCTV means that the public are not able to fully understand how it operates (Klauser, 2007) which has important implications for how it is perceived and the effect it has on the public. Klauser suggests that the spatial separation of CCTV operations to hidden control rooms ‘distanciates’ the regulation of public space and therefore removes the whole process from any form of participatory ‘community led strategies’.
CCTV both spatially and mentally disconnects the watched (monitored individual) from the watchers (operators). CCTV essentially deals with territorial separation, resulting in two distinct categories of space and in two distinct categories of people: while, on the one hand, the world spread below the camera embraces fully exposed publicity accessible places, the world behind the cameras consists of access-restricted places, destined for the visualisation, manipulation, interpretation and recording of decontextualised CCTV images.
(Klauser, 2007: 338)

Klauser found during a long term study of the impact of CCTV across an area where street prostitution operated that CCTV became a ‘taken for granted feature’ resulting in the cameras being mostly ignored by both potential criminals and the public users of the target area. The study questioned the long-term effectiveness of cameras to reassure the public and highlighted that CCTV needs to be implemented with additional measures including publicity to produce a positive prolonged impact. The study showed that CCTV surveillance was viewed as disconnected from the monitored areas and the ‘spatial distance’ would make it unlikely that ‘real time police interventions’ could be created from the control room and this belief was confirmed by a lack of any publicity of the cameras’ success (2007: 343)
Koskela (2000) examined whether CCTV can be perceived as making space safer and ‘more available’. In the analysis space is conceptualised as a container where social interaction occurs, and there are processes in place that shape and create the experience of the space including surveillance. A person viewing a camera has no knowledge of whether anyone is actually viewing the camera, or who or where the viewer may be. Cameras are passive and therefore have no ability to stop a crime, only perhaps solve it. The cameras add to the unpredictability of urban space as people are not aware of what the cameras actually do and the watched are left with the threat of being watched. Feelings of safety are not necessarily induced by the presence of cameras as people are always ‘an object’ to the cameras not able to control or influence their destiny. The anonymity of the cameras can lead to mistrust and produces uncertainty that may produce feeling of being unsafe rather than acting as a public reassurance measure. The findings above suggest that any good news stories from CCTV systems need to be publicised and the public’s confidence in CCTV systems should not be taken for granted. The research reviewed above indicates that people’s expectations of CCTV are often not met and this may link to the ineffective operational practices of systems that result in the symbolic (preventive) power of cameras being lost over time (Klauser, 2007).
Academic literature on CCTV has challenged the view that CCTV is a panacea for crime reduction and systems are often poorly implemented and operated. Research is still trying to identify the optimal conditions that make CCTV effective. Systems were often implemented without a clear idea of the actual mechanisms that would facilitate the cameras reducing crime. The Home Office (2007) in its ‘National CCTV Strategy’ document stated that the rapid expansion of CCTV has occurred ‘in a piecemeal fashion with little strategic direction control or regulation’. There needs to be a fuller debate about whether CCTV is the most effective means of dealing with crime and disorder in public places.
8.5 Biometrics



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