Two Security Camera Studies
From San Francisco:
San Francisco’s Community Safety Camera Program was launched in late 2005 with the dual goals of fighting crime and providing police investigators with a retroactive investigatory tool. The program placed more than 70 non-monitored cameras in mainly high-crime areas throughout the city. This report released today (January 9, 2009) consists of a multi-disciplinary collaboration examining the program’s technical aspects, management and goals, and policy components, as well as a quasi-experimental statistical evaluation of crime reports in order to provide a comprehensive evaluation of the program’s effectiveness. The results find that while the program did result in a 20% reduction in property crime within the view of the cameras, other forms of crime were not affected, including violent crime, one of the primary targets of the program.
From the UK:
The first study of its kind into the effectiveness of surveillance cameras revealed that almost every Scotland Yard murder inquiry uses their footage as evidence.
In 90 murder cases over a one year period, CCTV was used in 86 investigations, and senior officers said it helped to solve 65 cases by capturing the murder itself on film, or tracking the movements of the suspects before or after an attack.
In a third of the cases a good quality still image was taken from the footage from which witnesses identified the killer.
My own writing on security cameras is here. The question isn’t whether they’re useful or not, but whether their benefits are worth the costs.