Sunday, February 20, 2011

Effectiveness of Surveillance Cameras

More than I thought:
Her team of researchers looked at two high-crime neighborhoods on Chicago's West Side, Humboldt Park and West Garfield Park. In Humboldt Park, she told me, they found "a significant decrease in total monthly crime numbers," including property crime and violent crime. They found no evidence that the cameras merely pushed crime into other areas. In West Garfield Park, on the other hand, they saw "no impact," possibly because there were fewer cameras.

On the cost-effectiveness test, though, La Vigne says the cameras were a solid success. For every $1 of costs, they yielded $4 of societal benefits (reduced crime, savings in courts and corrections, less suffering for victims), despite their failure in West Garfield Park.

In Baltimore, where cameras are concentrated in downtown and monitored actively 24 hours a day (as distinct from the more passive approach in Chicago), La Vigne found the impact on violent crime was even greater — and the benefits exceeded the costs by 50 percent.
It makes sense that there is a diminishing effect of cameras. The most cost effective action may be to put a few in high crime areas and use them post-crime. I have very little opposition to this on privacy grounds. Must be because I'm an amoral libertarian.


  1. Interesting. The CCTV experiment in London was a major failure:

    Then again, it doesn't say anything about crime prevention, so maybe it wasn't such a failure.

  2. I've heard that too, but I'm not sure why it was such a failure. I mean, if a place gets robbed, you can see who it was or what the car was or at least some extra details.


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