Controlled Study of the Effects of CCTV on Violence

Jonathan P. Shepherd, University of Wales College of Medicine

Most assault injury is sustained in town and city centres. Closed circuit television (CCTV) surveillance has been successful in preventing acquisitive crime but its effectiveness in violence prevention is not clear and has not been investigated in a controlled study. Objectives: The principal objective of this study was to investigate the effect of urban CCTV on violent crime using police and emergency department (ED) records. Methods: A controlled study design was adopted. Towns/cities were selected on the basis of geographical location, population and co-terminosity of surveillance (CCTV system, police division and ED). Five intervention (CCTV) and five control centres were studied over a four year period: two years before and two years after camera installation in mid-1997. Results: According to police data, violent offences increased significantly overall in both CCTV (11%) and control (4% t-test: NS) centres. According to ED data in intervention centres there was an overall reduction (-3%) in numbers of patients reporting injury in assault but an increase (11% p<0.05) in control centres. ED recorded reductions in violence in intervention centres was not uniform: in 3:5 centres reductions were not significant. In 2:5 intervention centres police recorded significantly more violent offences after CCTV installation. Conclusions: It was concluded that CCTV surveillance may not lead to reductions in physical aggression but may, through more rapid police responses, lead to reductions in injury presenting to Emergency Departments.

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Updated 05/20/2006