U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Keeping an Eye on Crime

NCJ Number
Date Published
2 pages
This document provides examples of the use of video cameras for surveillance of public spaces and reports on a joint United States-United Kingdom effort to determine how to most effectively access and analyze the information collected on video surveillance tapes.

The National Institute of Justice (NIJ)--in a project that partners the agency's Office of Science and Technology (OS&T) with its United Kingdom counterpart, the Police Scientific Development Branch (PSDB) of the Home Office--is studying how to most effectively access and analyze the information collected on the video surveillance tapes. NIJ and PSDB will survey their respective industries and research communities, compare their findings, and then determine what they can do to help their law enforcement constituencies obtain the most benefit from video surveillance. One example of the use of video surveillance in public spaces is in Baltimore, MD, where 16 cameras focus on what once was considered a high-crime public area. This grant-funded project cost less than $60,000; and after 3 years of operation, it has been credited with a 34-percent decline in crime in the targeted area. The city of Baltimore, in partnership with its business community, avoided many problems associated with such a system by implementing safeguards against the misuse of the system and the information obtained. Another example of this type of surveillance is the U.S. Coast Guard's Vessel Traffic Service's use of surveillance cameras to monitor coastal waters.

Date Published: January 1, 1999