How Effective are CCTV Security Systems at Reducing Crime?

Since the July 7th London bombings, CCTV security systems (closed circuit TV) across the world have been examined with greater scrutiny and with greater expectations for reducing crime. Although not a panacea for preventing crime, many CCTV surveillance systems have been successful at reducing some types of crimes like property crime, for acting as a deterrent in car parks or in other public places, and for making citizens feel safer. However, the results are mixed when addressing violent crimes and when the crimes involve alcohol.

In the UK, where an average person may be watched 300 times a day by the prevalent closed circuit television systems, numerous case studies paired with crime statistics have been used by Britain’s Home Office to determine the effectiveness of these CCTV systems and to see how well CCTV saves time and money for their police force. In fact, from 1999 to 2001, the British government spent £170 million (approximately $250 million) for closed circuit television security schemes in town and in city centers, car parks, crime hot spots and in residential areas.

Keys to evaluating CCTV systems

According to Coretta Philips of the Home Office Policing and Reducing Crime Unit, CCTV systems are evaluated using these identifiers which help police pinpoint where and when the CCTV security camera systems are most beneficial.

o Caught in the act — When potential offenders fear being recorded by the CCTV cameras for courtroom purposes, they usually abandon any idea of conducting a crime.

o Publicity — If the CCTV camera schemes are public knowledge, then the would-be offenders may leave the target area, but may head to another area. Home Office data found that in the days leading up to the CCTV system activation, crime went down due to the increased publicity. However, if the publicity of the CCTV system is private, then offenders may be more likely to be deterred because they may think that CCTV security cameras may monitor other areas as well.

o Effective deployment of law enforcement officers — CCTV systems increase the response time of police officers to the incident scene before a member of public has to call the police. According to data compiled in 2004 by the Home Office, CCTV operators can determine how many officers to send to the scene and the CCTV surveillance cameras can indicate what the offenders are doing at the scene before the police arrive.

o Time for crime — If the offenders think that they can complete their crime before the CCTV systems can record it, then the police will have less chance at capturing the offenders. For example, if car thieves know that the security camera’s angle, range and speed are limited, they might determine how to best avoid the CCTV security cameras. However, the Home Office CCTV data has shown a reduction in car thefts in car parks, revealing that some offenders may still be captured on camera despite the speed of the crime.

Where CCTV systems scored well and where they missed

Although CCTV systems seem to reduce and deter property crime in public areas, such as car parks or shopping malls, CCTV systems aren’t as effective at stopping or preventing violent crimes. Although the CCTV systems do help at deploying police officers quickly to these violent crimes sites, the offenders may avoid the security cameras, since the security cameras are mounted in public zones, where violent crimes don’t take place. In this case, better street lighting may help to prevent such violent crimes from occurring. In addition, when alcohol is involved, the offenders don’t consider the consequences of their actions, making the CCTV systems ineffective as a deterrent amongst the intoxicated offenders.

On a positive note, the CCTV systems do reduce the public’s fear of crime and they do ensure the quick deployment of officers to the incident scene which gives less time for the offenders to act more violently. To truly verify if the CCTV system is effective, the law enforcement body needs to conduct video surveillance evaluations over a long period of time to weed out any inconsistencies in the crime data. Also, if the CCTV operators are well-trained and know the fastest way to deploy the police officers, then the CCTV system will be more effective. CCTV systems are the future for preventing crime, and as the CCTV security cameras become more sophisticated, more offenders will be caught and more crimes will be prevented.

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Is the Crime Rate Actually Dropping?

The FBI now has a report out on 2009’s crime rate compared to 2008. According to this report, violent crime is dropping in the 4 main categories:

1. Murder and non-negligent manslaughter, which is the willful killing of one person by another dropped 7.2%

2. Forcible rape decreased 3.1%

3. Robbery dropped 8.1%

4. Aggravated assault declined 4.2%

The larger cities in the United States seemed to have the largest percentage of decline in murders, whereas the smaller cities actually had a slight rise. There was also a slight rise in forced rapes in non-metropolitan areas, but in the larger cities and in all other categories there was a decline compared to 2008.

Now for the big question: What is causing the decline? As much as I would like to, I can’t bring myself to believe that criminal behavior is changing, that criminals are having a change of heart and becoming honest citizens.

I do believe, however, that more citizens are fighting back and doing more to protect themselves and their private property.

  • There are more neighborhood watches, making people suspicious of strangers in their neighborhoods and keeping an eye on each other’s homes.
  • More families are installing security devices in their homes to ward off intruders.
  • Kids are being taught self-defense and carrying cell phones and personal alarms to attract attention if they are being harassed by a stranger.
  • Women are carrying pepper spray and stun guns to decrease their chances of being attacked.
  • Surveillance cameras are in most businesses so robbers are aware they will be caught on tape.
  • Hidden cameras can now be set up in homes if a babysitter is suspected of stealing or abusing a child, stopping the situation before it gets out of control.
  • Dogs are becoming more a part of the family, protecting the home and property when the family is away.
  • Cell phones give witnesses a quick line to authorities if they observe a crime in progress so criminals are easier to catch in the act.
  • Vehicles are being made more difficult to break into.
  • Advances in forensic technology helps catch and convict more criminals.

I think criminals know that law abiding citizens are getting fed up and are more willing to fight back than in the past. It is not unusual for late night store employees to have some kind of protection device such as pepper spray, a stun gun or even a lethal firearm close by if needed, plus camera surveillance.

It is unfortunate that we have to be so alert, so aware of our safety in every situation, looking over our shoulders or out of the corners of our eyes for anything suspicious. But it may be what is working to bring down violent crime.

However, in spite of the fact that violent crime seems to be decreasing slightly, it isn’t that there are fewer criminals out there. I think it is just that they are meeting with resistance that was not present several years ago. They are running into technology and angry home owners, kids who know not to talk to strangers and who know what to do if approached by a stranger, women who know self-defense and carry self-defense weapons.

It’s getting tougher for the criminals. Maybe some are having second thoughts. Maybe some are actually realizing it isn’t worth the risk of getting caught and are turning their lives around for the better. Unfortunately they will never go away completely. However, we can continue our fight against them, continue to stay one step ahead of them and hope the occurrences of violent crime continue to decline.

How To Get Probation For a Crime in Tennessee

For an individual charged with a crime, one of the biggest concerns will be what happens to them if convicted. The basic outcomes of a conviction are either a sentence of jail time, or an alternative sentence such as probation.

In Tennessee, qualified offenders will be eligible for probation, meaning they can avoid going to jail. However, probation can come with strict conditions, and it can be costly. The criteria for receiving probation in Tennessee are found in the Tennessee Code Annotated Title 40, Chapter 35, Part 3.

Under Tennessee Code Annotated 40-35-303, first-time offenders will be able to receive probation on just about any non-violent or drug related offense, including both misdemeanors and felonies. Crimes such as drug possession (with or without intent to sell or deliver), DUI, theft, vandalism, forgery, fraud, assault, and burglary are all probation eligible. Violent crimes such as first and second degree murder, aggravated robbery, aggravated kidnapping, and many sex crimes are not. If you are charged with a crime in Tennessee, you should contact a Tennessee criminal defense lawyer to review your case and assess your chances of getting probation if convicted.

Here’s how you get probation for a criminal offense in Tennessee: you have to ask the judge. Under Tennessee Code 40-35-302, first you must plead guilty (or you are found guilty by a jury following trial), then you have a sentencing hearing where your attorney would petition the court and present evidence on your behalf as to why you would be a good candidate for probation. First offenders charged with non-violent offenses are eligible for probation, but they are not necessarily entitled to it. The law merely gives you the chance. You still must convince the judge.

At the sentencing hearing, it probably would be wise to testify for yourself, to explain your involvement in the offense and show that you have taken responsibility for it. Honesty and remorse are very important to a judge in deciding whether to grant an alternative sentence. You may also want to have someone who knows you, such as a family member or priest, testify as a character witness. If you are employed, you will want to tell the judge and possibly show employment records. Having a job can greatly improve your chances of receiving probation.

If you are granted probation, it will begin immediately. The judge can put in place any number of conditions, including a curfew, random and frequent drug tests, community service, and restitution. Failure to follow or complete these conditions, or getting arrested again, would be grounds for a probation violation and would send you to jail. However, if you do what you’re required to do and obey the law, this won’t happen.

The Legal Implications of Violent Crimes

If you have been accused of a crime, the entire process can be very scary and overwhelming. Understanding the legal part of the situation can often be very difficult and a lot of people make a few small mistakes that could lead to huge consequences. It is important that you are aware of your basic rights and you get someone to represent you so that you are not punished wrongly.

What are Violent Crimes?

Depending on state rules, the definition of a violent crime may differ a little. But basically they are crimes like battery, assault, domestic violence, etc. which are considered to be extremely dangerous to society. Robbery and arson are also often clubbed in this category. Even though homicide is usually considered to be in a different category of law, manslaughter also usually falls under the category of violent crimes.

Kinds of Violent Crimes

There are three basic ways of categorizing crimes of a serious nature: those causing harm against another person, those of a sexual nature and those against any kind of property. Even though offences against property usually fall under a different branch of law, serious offences like arson may be tried under this category.

Rape and sexual assault are considered as very serious crimes committed against an individual. Assault and battery are the two most common forms of crime that cause harm to another person. While assault is an act that will cause another to fear bodily harm, battery is when there is actual physical contact with the person. These two terms are often used together and both can also be considered as aggravated assault or battery when the threat is extremely offensive or against a public figure. For example, the use of a deadly weapon to threaten a person or assaulting a police officer would be taken as aggravated assault.

The Need for a Good Attorney

It can often be confusing and difficult to understand the legal implications of a violent crime. Those accused may not be aware of their rights and the defenses that could be available to them. For instance, if you committed a crime but it was only because you were trying to protect yourself or another person, you could just be able to fight a very strong case and have it dismissed. Many good attorneys will also help you build your case so that your punishment is reduced. Hiring a good criminal defense attorney could make a huge difference to your freedom.