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James “Grim” Desborough's profile photoChris Tregenza's profile photo
The CCTV, it's more cost effective and prevents more crime. Provided that our rights as regards images of us aren't eroded.
Please provide evidence that:

a) CCTV prevents crime (and not simply moves it)

b) CCTV prevents more crime than a financially equivalent increase in police resources

c) that either police or CCTV is more effective financially equivalent social programs such as drug treatment or job programs.

Only references to peer-reviewed academic papers count as evidence.
Studies cut both ways, however the overall trend in meta-studies does seem to show a reducing effect. Dispersion/diffusion is even harder to detect. However, with a CCTV system a single monitoring officer can do the equivalent patrol work of many, reducing costs. It's a question of pragmatism. Do you want a police force that makes you feel better or one that actually reduces crime? 'Bobbies on the beat' is horrendously inefficient and ineffective, but makes people feel better. Rational cost/benefit decisions makes better sense.

The other advantage is that hard evidence (video data) is much better at producing convictions after a crime has been committed than notoriously patchy witness statements.
You make my point for me.

There is no evidence that CCTV has any real effect on crime levels.

You assertion that 'overall trend in meta-studies does seem to show a reducing effect' is not supported by any citation of evidence. Crime in general has gone down over the last twenty years. Please produce a study that shows any correlation between CCTV expenditure and crime reduction.

I am all for cost benefit analysis and there are certainly places where CCTV is effective, e.g. crowd control at football matches. But there is no body of evidence that the day-to-day crime, which has the biggest impact on most people's lives, is affected by CCTV.

Your straw man argument is of 'bobbies on the beat' is disingenuous.

The question was about police officers, not an increase in pointless foot patrols. More police officers means more resources to track down the repeat offenders, e.g. burglars and car thieves.

You also fail to cite evidence that video is better at producing convictions. Most crimes are not caught on video, in those which are, the video is often of dreadful quality.

Have a look through this list of press statements from Nottingham police [ ]. We have CCTV in the city and neighbouring small towns and yet none of the press statements mentions successful prosecutions thanks to town-centre CCTV or provide images of suspects from CCTV. There are a few 'do you know this man' type CCTV but these are all from CCTV based in the premises being attacked.

Obviously my example is not meaningful, but it demonstrates why there is so little academic evidence in support of CCTV.

CCTV has been sold as a panacea against terrorism and crime supported by a few high profile cases where CCTV was useful in securing a prosecution. The reality is that most CCTV system are a waste of money.
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