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Camera shy burglars avoid the limelight

security camera in a garden

A CCTV camera is a different kind of security system that needs a different approach if you want to keep your home or business free of unwanted intruders.
Some crime prevention systems make buildings harder to break into, make valuables harder to steal or help keep people free from attack or assault.
Such measures can include walls and fences, locks and bolts, security grilles and shutters, and you will find them in everyday use in shops, offices and homes.
CCTV works differently. Although it has a security function, its primary purpose is perceptual; that is, to create the impression in the potential burglar's mind that, if he proceeds, he is very likely to be spotted and caught.
One of the most important considerations when installing a CCTV camera security system is getting good, sound professional advice. Many issues need to be considered for the most efficient use of security cameras, such as lighting, lines of sight, viewing angles and proof against vandalism or tampering.

Flaws in using hidden cameras

When they first came into use, many CCTV security cameras were hidden from view as far as possible. The rationale was to reduce crime by detection rather than prevention. Hidden security cameras were less likely to be vandalised, and burglars caught in the act and captured on film would increase the arrest and conviction of more criminals. It soon became apparent that this approach had flaws. Research studies found that although the idea that increased arrest rates lead to reduced crime seems obvious, there is a strong suggestion that precisely the opposite is true: that more frequent arrests make offenders more likely to commit a future crime. The use of CCTV cameras to catch criminals in the act, use CCTV evidence to convict and thereby reduce crime levels overall was much less helpful than initially thought. Much depends on the effectiveness of police response times, the type of offence being tackled, and the ability of criminals to adapt.

Visible cameras are more of a deterrent

It soon became apparent that CCTV could be a far more significant deterrent if cameras were visible and publicised. This approach also has its problems. To be effective, potential burglars must be aware of the camera's presence; the camera must be vandal-proof, and the criminal must believe that the CCTV present a real risk of capture.  Studies have found  that almost half of the people questioned were unaware of more than 30 CCTV cameras erected in a city centre even after a massive publicity campaign. CCTV cameras pose a real risk of capture but assume that potential offenders will behave rationally. Evidence shows that those under the influence of alcohol or drugs may not notice, care or register that a camera is in the area.

Benefits of security cameras

Despite these caveats, there is no doubt that a prominent CCTV security camera system can bring some clear benefits. Numerous studies have found that cameras can reduce the fear of crime in CCTV-controlled areas, although only amongst those who are aware that cameras are in place. Despite mixed findings on the effectiveness of reducing crime, CCTV still plays a significant role in detection, with numerous examples of camera tapes being used to secure court convictions. CCTV cameras can also be used in homes, offices or factories to monitor the flow of people and help determine false alarms. Evidence of the 'diffuse' benefits of installing CCTV is also growing. Potential burglars don't know the power and capability of a highly visible camera. The erection of a camera can prompt neighbours to become more security conscious. An area becomes 'known' amongst criminals to have a high level of protection.

More on the use of CCTV cameras

Do CCTV cameras cut down crime?
Keep a close watch on your security camera
Choosing a CCTV camera system


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