One of the most common questions answered by the Cerberus security team is; how much does CCTV reduce criminal activity? There have been numerous reports and controlled experiments that suggest that CCTV results in a significant decrease in crime, however, CCTV has a higher impact in some settings in comparison to others. We’ve summarised the research below to demonstrate.
What Crimes Does CCTV Protect Against?
There are lots of ways to use CCTV systems, but by and large the focus for most properties is on preventing theft.
There is one particular study that showed that CCTV was effective against vehicle-related crimes, but the impact levels of violent crime were unproven. CCTV has been shown by the College of Policing to be most effective in preventing:
- Car park crimes; which can include vehicle thefts, thefts from empty cars, and muggings or attacks on users in remote car park locations. Car park CCTV reduces these instances of crime by 51%.
- City and town centres: When analysed, a 10% fall in crime was identified.
- Public transport areas: By combining data of 4 studies, there was a 23% reduction in crime.
Other types of incident effectively prevented by CCTV include:
- Retail thefts and shoplifting.
- Criminal trespassing.
- Thefts from construction sites.
- Employee theft.
- False accident claims.
The key is to use CCTV as a vital tool in a comprehensive security strategy. Clear signage informing visitors and the public of the use of live recording is a cost-effective way to demonstrate that your premises are protected.
Using surveillance alongside physical perimeter controls, security checkpoints and safety lighting are all great ways to present a site that is serious about preventing criminal activity.
All of these factors combine to create a layer of defence around your home or business, and safeguard your assets from criminals – who will be far more likely to search for an easier target.
Getting the Best Use from a CCTV Installation
We’ve seen that CCTV can have a tangible impact on reducing crime – but how can we leverage this asset to provide the most significant security impact?
The Cerberus team recommends a methodical risk assessment to kick-start your decision-making and use your CCTV wisely:
- Identify your key risks – is that vehicle theft, squatters, retail theft, staff abuse or unauthorised access to your site out of hours?
- Determine how effective your existing security protocols are. Do you feel that your location is particularly vulnerable at a certain time of day, or during particular activities?
- Research the specific risks in your area. Many locations have higher instances of a particular type of crime – perhaps that is fly-tipping on an industrial estate, or vandalism over the weekends when security guards are not present.
- Assess your premises for key areas of vulnerability. These are typically doors and windows, but might also be dark stairwells, remote corners, unused parts of a property, or perimeters without barricades or fencing.
Once you have worked through your risk assessment, you will be in a great position to decide on the optimal use of your CCTV as a crime prevention measure.
That can include:
- Installing CCTV in key places such as entranceways and unsupervised locations.
- Identifying where security staff have restricted lines of sight, and directing surveillance equipment over those areas.
- Deciding on when your biggest risks emerge, and programming your surveillance equipment to be operational primarily during those times.
- Putting in place other safeguards such as lighting, security staff and visitor management procedures.
As well as reducing your exposure to external crime, CCTV is also an effective way to remotely monitor site activities, manage staffing, and keep track of operations when you are not physically present.
CCTV has been shown to be a deterrent to smaller crimes, such as employee theft, particularly in the retail sector, and essential for businesses selling higher value goods.
Is CCTV an Effective Way to Reduce Crime Levels?
CCTV surveillance has been shown to be a highly effective method of reducing instances of crime. This visible, permanent presence acts as an additional member of security staff, with round-the-clock monitoring.
The effectiveness is perhaps based on a number of factors including:
- increased perception of getting caught
- increasing the actual risk of getting caught
- encouraging additional use of the area due to the perceived safety
Your cameras can keep a watchful eye over your premises even when outside of working hours, and provide instant footage when a perimeter breach is detected, or unusual activity identified.
Where particular types of crime are hard to solve, being able to assist the police and driving up prosecution rates has an overall benefit of reducing the number of crimes that take place, and deterring criminals from the temptation to attempt a theft that is likely to result in their arrest.
For more information about commercial CCTV installation as a crime prevention measure, and how it can be most effectively used in your premises, get in touch with the Cerberus team today.