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Public Perceptions of CCTV in Residential Areas: "It Is Not as Good as We Thought It Would Be"

NCJ Number
International Criminal Justice Review Volume: 17 Issue: 4 Dated: December 2007 Pages: 304-324
Martin Gill; Jane Bryan; Jenna Allen
Date Published
December 2007
21 pages
This British study examined residents' views of the use of closed-circuit television (CCTV) for surveillance of public areas in their neighborhoods.
The study found that residents' high level of support for CCTV surveillance in their neighborhood before it was installed rested on their belief it would be an effective deterrent against crime; however, in practice, residents' fear for their personal safety and their reluctance to move freely in all areas of their neighborhood ("avoidance" behavior) did not change after CCTV was installed. The data show that the most powerful factor in determining residents' feelings about their safety and the effectiveness of CCTV was their prior criminal victimization in the neighborhood. It is evident that CCTV in and of itself does not change people's attitudes and behaviors regarding being safe in their communities. They must be convinced, through various means, that circumstances that breed crime in their neighborhood have changed and that the people who commit crimes in various places in the community have been dealt with by the authorities and no longer pose a threat. The existence of CCTV alone is not sufficient to motivate people to move freely in all areas of their community without fear of becoming a crime victim. Data for this study were obtained from public attitude surveys conducted in eight residential areas in the United Kingdom both before and 12 months after the installation of CCTV. These surveys were conducted as part of a wider evaluation of the impact of CCTV on crime and fear of crime. The surveys were designed to determine levels of victimization, fear of crime, avoidance behavior, and support for CCTV before and after the camera's installation. 9 tables, 3 figures, 9 notes, and 29 references