Does CCTV crime prevention really work?

Whether CCTV crime prevention really works is a controversial topic.

Critics of closed-circuit television surveillance are quick to claim that monitoring streets and homes with cameras makes little or no difference to criminal offending. CCTV cameras are viewed as intrusive, Big-Brother-esque technology with no proven usefulness.

So can CCTV actually prevent crime, or not?

And is it worth the investment for homeowners and small businesses?

Situational dependency

Sticking CCTV cameras up all over the place does not produce an immediate reduction in crime. Violent crimes – think after sundown on a weekend night after the pubs turn out – in particular is rarely, if ever, deterred by camera surveillance.

Street cameras can help with collecting evidence AFTER a crime has been committed. And actively monitored systems, with trained operators watching camera feeds, can reduce response times to a crime which is in progress.

Neither of these examples is crime prevention, but CCTV is being used to catch offenders and reduce the harm caused by crime.

Under more specific situations though, CCTV surveillance can be much more effective. Where there is a high-risk of a specific offence in a particular location, CCTV crime prevention does work.

Where, What, When

For example, car crime is a persistent problem in some areas. A conspicuous camera trained on a car park or your driveway is an effective deterrent to vandals and thieves looking for easy vehicular targets. Studies indicate that car crime and reduced by over 50 percent by adding a CCTV security system.

You may not be able to monitor your surveillance footage 24hrs a day. CCTV crime prevention works for car crime because a security camera is your eyes when you can’t be there. You are passively monitoring an area, which acts as both a deterrent, and as an early warning when criminals are sizing up your vehicle.

Similarly, homeowners can reap the benefits of CCTV crime prevention. An obvious security camera system trained on entrance routes to your home such as a back garden can act as a strong deterrent to would-be intruders.

CCTV crime prevention only works together with other methods

Do not make the classic mistake: investing in a CCTV system before securing your property.

Remember to:

  • Secure windows and doors with proper locks
  • Invest in ‘target hardening’ with fences and other barriers
  • Get a home alarm
  • Improve lighting, either continuous or motion-activated

Once these simple measures are taken, do consider the benefits of CCTV crime prevention. DIY options exist for a range of budgets including: