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What Do Offenders Think About CCTV?

NCJ Number
Crime Prevention and Community Safety: An International Journal Volume: 5 Issue: 3 Dated: 2003 Pages: 17-25
Martin Gill; Karryn Loveday
Date Published
9 pages
This article presents offenders' views of CCTV (closed-circuit television) as a means of deterring crime, based on face-to-face interviews with inmates in British prisons.
The interviews involved 77 convicted male inmates in 5 prisons. The only criterion for inclusions in the interviews was that the offenders had committed (but not necessarily been caught for or serving a sentence for) a theft or fraud offense in the past. Nineteen of the inmates discussed street robberies (17 young offenders and 2 adult offenders); 25 discussed burglaries (15 young offenders and 10 adults); 26 had committed card frauds (9 young offenders and 17 adult offenders); and 7 were interviewed about shop thefts (5 young offenders and 2 adult offenders). The interview focused on offenders' approaches to committing offenses and their assessment of the risks involved. Their views of CCTV were discussed at various points in the interview. In each case the inmates were asked whether CCTV had made any difference in their offending, both generally and for the specific offenses they discussed. A total of 32 (41.5 percent) of the offenders discussed an offense that occurred in a location where CCTV was installed; only 2 of these offenders felt that the CCTV had made their crime more difficult to commit; both were young offenders who had shoplifted. Most offenders believed that CCTV would not be a factor in their apprehension; and should this be the case, it would simply be an unlucky random event. Overall, the findings suggest that most offenders do not view CCTV as serious threat of apprehension that would deter them from committing a crime in an area with CCTV. Those who knew that evidence from CCTV images was instrumental in their capture and/or identification were more likely to perceive it as a threat than those who had no knowledge that CCTV played a part in their apprehension. 16 notes