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CCTV surveillance found to be a key tool in crime prevention

Piza E, Welsh B, Farrington D, Thomas A. CCTV surveillance for crime prevention: A 40-year systematic review with meta-analysis Criminology & Public Policy. 2019; 18(1): 135-159.

Review question

      What are the effects of CCTV surveillance technology on crime prevention efforts?


      Crime prevention and reduction is a top priority for many stakeholders including policymakers, police services and older adults.

      In recent years, closed-circuit television (CCTV) surveillance has emerged as a popular crime prevention measure worldwide.

      It is estimated that 49% of police departments in the United States use CCTV, with usage increasing to 87% for agencies serving jurisdictions with populations of 250,000 or more.

      The prevalence of surveillance cameras in public places has led to a normalization of this technology, allowing it to exist with little scrutiny from the public and media.

      The aim of this systematic review is to present an updated analysis of the crime prevention effects of CCTV.

How the review was done

      Review authors conducted a detailed search of eleven research databases for eligible studies published in English from 2007 to 2017.

      Manual searches of the references section of each included study was conducted to identify further studies for inclusion.

      A total of 80 papers were included in this review, 44.7% of which were published reports and 55.3% of which were from the grey literature.

      This project was funded by the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention.

What the researchers found

      The included studies in this review were carried out in nine different countries, including the United Kingdom (44.7%), the United States (31.5%), Canada (7.9%), South Korea (3.9%), Sweden (5.3%), Norway (1.3%), Spain (1.3%), Poland (2.6%), and Australia (1.3%).

      Of the studies included in this systematic review, violent crime was the most frequently reported, followed by vehicle crimes and other property crimes.

      CCTV had the largest effect on drug crime with a reduction of approximately 20%. Significant reductions were also seen in vehicle crime and property crime, but no significant effects were observed for violent crime or disorder.

      Of note, CCTV interventions involving active monitoring was associated with a significant reduction in crime while passively monitored systems showed non-significant effects across three different analyses.

      The efficacy of CCTV surveillance was enhanced when paired with other interventions, such as signage, improved lighting, police operations, community outreach, access control (for example, key card access to buildings), communications systems, and security guards.


      In summary, the findings of the systematic review show that CCTV is associated with a significant and modest decrease in crime.

      The largest and most consistent effects of CCTV were observed in car parks, while significant crime reductions were also seen residential areas. CCTV involving active monitoring was found to be more effective than passive systems, and all CCTV modalities were improved when paired with other interventions.

      Overall, the results of this review lend support for the continued use of CCTV as a tool to prevent crime. As CCTV surveillance continues to expand and evolve with new technology, policy will benefit from more high‐quality evaluations of outcomes and implementation.


Systematic review
A comprehensive evaluation of the available research evidence on a particular topic.

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