The Use Of Cctv Criminology Essay

The use of CCTV (Closed Circuit Television Technology) in public place has aroused the concern of public against the privacy issue and stimulated intense debate across the globe. This research aim to discuss the society’s ethical stance on the use of CCTV in public place through an investigative and comparative analysis. The report will provide a variety of discussion based on objective analysis of available publications throughout the world. It addresses the main debates surrounding effectiveness and utility and further evaluates the protection of individual rights.


CCTV or Closed Circuit Television is a video surveillance technology. It is described by several sociologist and criminologist like Clive Norris and Gary Armstrong (1999) as a form of power that views and controls the activities and actions of people. CCTV can be set up and used by public authorities in public or private areas in aiding crime prevention and crime prosecution. It is a multi-purpose kind of technology, where previous years it was supposed to be used to manage risk cases of traffic jams, fire and crime. CCTV sometimes helps and also creates some problems to the general public. In some ways it limits the freedom of other people. Meaning that you know people are watching you and there are some things which you can’t do when people are watching. Like example, I have and itch on my butt and I can’t scratch it in public since CCTVs are watching. CCTV when put in public places they record and display whatever that happens in that area. People therefore have lost their right to privacy once they leave their homes and into public places. Freedom is the right for everyone. People have the right to do and live their lives in peace without having others watching them.

Literature Review

Usage of CCTV

The lack of clear outline and a standard on the employ of CCTV and the targeted population is a major setback of CCTV technology. Clarifications on the uses of CCTV have been made by Muller and Boos (2004). They found that CCTV is generally used for registering evidence, conduct control, flow control, access control and the planning of deployment based on their study.

Targeted Individuals or groups of CCTV

Norris and Armstrong (1999) created eight categories of suspicion targeted by video surveillance operators in terms of selection of targeted individuals or groups. Categories of suspicion that included are protection, which infers monitoring a vulnerable person (single women, children); category, which is a suspicion based on personal characteristics; location, that is based on person’s location; behavior suspicion, which is based on recognizing abnormal behavior; personalized, which suggests prior knowledge of the person; transmitted, that refers to a suspicion based on an outside source; routine, which is based on a set surveillance path; and voyeuristic or for entertainment purposes.

CCTV as effective safety tool for crime solving/prevention

CCTV monitors individuals and crowds, provide warning signs of potential criminal offences, respond to threats and thus notifies the operator(s) of harmful actions and behavior, during and after the occurrence of an event (McCahill &. Norris 2002a). For instance, in Barcelona, video surveillance cameras allowed authorities to find a young Spanish man who aggressively attacked a Latino American man in the metro (Cambon 2007). Such events have spread awareness on the effectiveness of the system as safety tool. This CCTV technology can conduct and inform both helpers and others on the situation in case there is an incident like fire. Besides, CCTV technology is deemed as a successful and efficient tool for reducing crime rates within targeted areas for certain social science researchers, government agencies, and institutions. There are many studies devoted to proving this stance and asserting the claim that CCTV systems are useful. These studies proposed that CCTV system have reactive and preventative measures, increase the efficiency of police force, revive business in desolate or poor areas, build social cohesion, protect the private environment of citizens and ensure feelings of safety. Opponents of CCTV technology claim there is too much focus on the ability of CCTV to reduce crime. They said that such focus produces misleading studies and draws away from a proper assessment and evaluation of the impact of CCTV on solving crime. Nacro, the UK-Based organization conducted a review of CCTV and found that property crimes reduced in areas covered by video surveillance, especially in car parks, for example car theft. However, the same Nacro review revealed that public video surveillance had no impact on personal crimes such as assault or drunkenness. Therefore, some people critic the use of CCTV is a ‘quick-fix’ solution and fails to tackle the real problems.

CCTV as effective safety tool for building feelings of security

Ann RudinowSætnan et al. (2004) claim that CCTV is an effective tool to reducing crime and establishes relations in a unsafe area. The use of CCTV increase made citizen feel safer and encourages broad participation and interaction in public spaces, which is effective in improving a community’s image and attract more investment. However, there are several research disagree with the above statement. They claim that CCTV does not reduce the feelings of unsafe or insecurity, therefore it is ineffective to use as a tools to preventing or solving crime. Jason Ditton (2000) claim that CCTV does not make people feel secure but create a false fear. Futhermore, the camera targets the innocent citizen rather than the criminal, imposing a constant fear in public spaces. Several research result have shown that citizen feel discomfort and fear in the presence of video surveillance was significantly higher among women, who are commonly labeled as the most vulnerable group to criminal events.

CCTV as effective management tool

CCTV video surveillance technology have been adopted by several countries as a management tools to administrate and monitor transport system, rationalize the maintenance of building infrastructure, fire prevention and for management of social spaces. Several studies demonstrate that CCTV are an effective management tools since it is less expensive than police officers and more efficient in detecting or preventing criminal offences. Don Babwin (2007) asserts that unlike security personnel, cameras are not subject to fatigue or loss of concentration and therefore provide uninterrupted and consistent effort. Therefore, the financial burden of the initial expense of purchasing and installing the system is thwarted by its long-term efficiency over employing additional police officers who may be less valuable.

Ethical Challenges

According to the 2006 Privacy International Report, government’s policy initiatives on security are’destabilizing core elements of personal privacy’ there must be an understanding on how changes in privacy laws, technologies implemented affect legal and constitutional protections, individual rights, freedoms and autonomy, democratic institutions. The use of CCTV technology has stirred ethical concerns. These concerns refer to the lack of privacy protection, the repression of individual liberties for the ‘greater good’ and mounting fears of insecurity. Innocent people will feel that video surveillance cameras in public places would invade people’s privacy at every turn and it would make going out in public feel like being in a bank. CCTV helps but at the cost of infringing on the rights of low-abiding citizens, their action in public space is being recorded. Therefore, they have stimulated the rise of rules and regulations which aim to protect individuals’ rights and freedoms as well as regulate the use and output of information captured by such systems. Politicians who abide by CCTV as an effective and successful method in the field of crime prevention, suggest that the presence of CCTV systems in public spaces act as a deterrence to criminals or potential offenders. Therefore, innocent individuals should not be bothered by its presence. The cameras target offenders and thus offer no harm to the general public. This mentality is widely used to convince the public that CCTV systems are used for a specific reason and do not impinge on issues of privacy or civil liberties. This mentality in fact poses an ethical concern, which assumes that in general individuals are innocent and must give up some liberties for the ‘greater good’.


There exists a variety of frameworks, local, national and international, which aim to protect and

secure privacy and safety rights of individuals in society. Besides, there is also a clear lack of codes of practice and a fear that commercial interests override individual’s freedoms and rights. Therefore, government officials and policy makers use it as a reference guide for assessing the main issues and addressing effective solutions.

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