Are Surveillance Cameras Throughout a City an Effective Way of Reducing Crime?

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Ways Surveillance Cameras Can Reduce Crime

With the advancement in technology, different cities around the world are beginning to major on the installation of surveillance cameras. Different studies have shown that the installation of these cameras has actually brought about commendable results. This, however, does not mean that the use of surveillance cameras completely eliminates crime (Welsh & Farrington, 2012). In many ways, hooligans still manage to find a way around their crimes, even with the presence of these surveillance cameras. In some areas, the aversion of crime through the use of surveillance cameras is still difficult. Most of these issues are as a result of how the cameras are set up, monitored, and the balance of privacy with utility and the number of cameras required. 

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Ways Surveillance Cameras Fail to Reduce Crime

Under this segment, an analysis of installation of cameras in three towns will be assessed. The first town is Baltimore. During the survey, officials put in place 500 cameras in a downtown area that was monitored by retired police officers (Slobogin, 2007). This installation saw a rapid drop in crime. However, in other areas within Baltimore, different observations were collected. In addition, the crimes reduced in some areas while in others they remained either constant or increased. 

The second town was Chicago where approximately 6000 were installed in the downtown. Two neighborhoods were especially monitored. The study found that in one, there was a drop in crime rates, while in the other, there was no drop in crime. In one, the thought cause for the drop in the crime rates was that there was a higher concentration of the surveillance cameras (Grolle, 2009). In the other, the failure of a drop in crimes was due to the lack of constant monitoring by police.

In the third town, Washington, monitoring was thorough. However, this strategy did not deter crime since the cameras did not have any impact on the crimes. When the cameras were installed in areas with high-level crimes, the town residents raised complaints of the cameras failing to give privacy. 

From the above studies, surveillance cameras do not offer guarantee that the can avert crimes. Several factors cause this lack of complete aversion to crime. Surveillance cameras, therefore, do not completely eliminate the occurrence of crimes.

Ways Surveillance Reduces Crimes

First, the physical presence of a surveillance camera is a strong way to citizens’ aversion to crime. These cameras can be installed at the front of houses or institutions, or near cashiers. Their mere presence makes the potential offenders afraid of committing any crimes. Second, surveillance cameras have played a great role in the arrest of offenders. When the cameras are strategically located, they can help detect offenders. Criminal offences can also be acted upon in a friendly manner, prompting quick action from officers. After installation, pursuing offenders becomes much easier. Third, surveillance systems help single out criminals. If a shop attendant, for instance, senses the anxiety on the face of a shoplifter, they can trace their crime. In secluded areas, those monitoring the cameras can identify individuals who may take part in these crimes. If the monitoring is done well and in real time, they can act immediately and arrest the offenders in time. Again, offenders intending to commit a crime may be deterred from the same when they realize they are being watched. 

Fourth, surveillance cameras easily provide evidence to a crime. This may be a long-term effect of the surveillance cameras. While tackling a case, footage can be revisited to show how a crime took place, and to identify the face of the individual who executed the crime. This has helped arrest and detain tough criminals since the evidence offered by the surveillance cameras is often undisputable. Fifth, a neighborhood that has installed surveillance is likely to experience total reduced crime rates. The neighbors are likely to present collaborative effort to ensure effective monitoring of these cameras. This will, in turn, ensure that crime is reduced in total. Lastly, on the very issue of neighborhoods, these cameras act as ways of informing neighbors (Slobogin, 2007). When the cameras are installed in secluded places, the security guards or normal residents patrolling those areas will be aware of the potential risks that stand, from what the cameras show.

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Collective Findings

Surveillance cameras are an effective way of reducing crime. As seen above, however, issues may come up in the process. These issues include lack of careful monitoring or the location of the cameras in places that are unsuitable. However, certain steps can be taken to ensure that the surveillance cameras have taken full effect. For example, while installing the cameras, the balance between privacy and utility should be observed. The cameras should not be installed in places where individuals will feel they are being preyed on (Grolle, 2009). On the same, where they are installed, those in charge of the cameras should ensure they monitor them effectively. While installing surveillance cameras also, the community should be involved. Getting the community to participate in the process will ensure that they accept the surveillance system. The cameras should also be allocated carefully to ensure their full captivity. Detectives should also be trained how to assess and monitor the cameras, especially if the vital footage was captured when there was bad weather or technical problems. When the above steps are followed, aversion of crimes becomes easier, through the use of surveillance systems. 

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  1. Grolle, S. (2009). CCTV to prevent crime?: To what extent does CCTV prevent crime and how does it effect the life in our cities?. München: GRIN Verlag GmbH.
  2. Slobogin, C. (2007). Privacy at risk: The new government surveillance and the Fourth Amendment. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  3. Welsh, B., & Farrington, D. P. (2012). The Oxford handbook of crime prevention. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
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