UK survey suggests impact of CCTV overstated
A report by the National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders (Nacro) has cast doubt on CCTV's ability to cut crime.
Based on its research, Ms Rachel Armitage, of Nacro's crime and social policy unit, said: "It would be foolish to claim that well-planned CCTV can never have an impact, but the effectiveness of CCTV is often overstated."
Between 1996 and 1998, three-quarters of the Britain’s crime prevention budget was spent on CCTV, said the report.
It said: "But while CCTV schemes in car parks can be effective in reducing car crime, cameras in town centres have little impact on serious or violent crime.
"Without the constant oxygen of publicity CCTV schemes can quickly lose their effectiveness.
"Ironically, evidence shows that the biggest falls in crime linked to CCTV installation occur before cameras are operational, coinciding with the period when publicity is at its greatest."
But British home office minister Lord Falconer insisted that CCTV cameras had a "significant" impact on crime levels where they were properly used and maintained. He conceded, however, that more research was needed into the use of CCTV.
The report found the number of crime prevention cameras in England and Wales would have soared from 100 in 1990 to an estimated 40,000 cameras by the end of 2002.
Nacro's study said Home Office evaluations of 24 CCTV schemes in town centres, housing estates, public transport and car parks showed four had resulted in crime rates rising significantly.
A total of 13 resulted in a significant fall in crime, while seven had no effect.