The value of CCTV surveillance cameras as an investigative tool: an empirical analysis

Abstract

There has been extensive research on the value of closed-circuit television (CCTV) for preventing crime, but little on its value as an investigative tool. This study sought to establish how often CCTV provides useful evidence and how this is affected by circumstances, analysing 251,195 crimes recorded by British Transport Police that occurred on the British railway network between 2011 and 2015. CCTV was available to investigators in 45% of cases and judged to be useful in 29% (65% of cases in which it was available). Useful CCTV was associated with significantly increased chances of crimes being solved for all crime types except drugs/weapons possession and fraud. Images were more likely to be available for more-serious crimes, and less likely to be available for cases occurring at unknown times or in certain types of locations. Although this research was limited to offences on railways, it appears that CCTV is a powerful investigative tool for many types of crime. The usefulness of CCTV is limited by several factors, most notably the number of public areas not covered. Several recommendations for increasing the usefulness of CCTV are discussed.

Publication
European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research
Date
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