Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Surveillance cameras move crime in San Francisco

Whether widespread surveillance cameras actually work is often hotly debated. Some contend they counter crime while others contend that cameras only move it. Researchers at the University of California Berkeley have done a pretty intensive review of crime statistics in San Francisco related to the cameras in place in that city and have concluded, in a preliminary review, that they simply move crime out of view of the cameras.

Crime cameras not capturing many crimes

...They looked at seven types of crime: larcenies, burglaries, motor vehicle theft, assault, robbery, homicide and forcible sex offenses.

The only positive deterrent effect was the reduction of larcenies within 100 feet of the cameras. No other crimes were affected - except for homicides, which had an interesting pattern.

Murders went down within 250 feet of the cameras, but the reduction was completely offset by an increase 250 to 500 feet away, suggesting people moved down the block before killing each other.

The final report is expected to analyze the figures in more depth and to include other crimes, including prostitution and drug offenses.

Kevin Ryan, director of the Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice, said it's premature to dismiss the use of the cameras based on the preliminary report. He said the report shows the devices change behavior in some instances. "At the end of the day, if the report does suggest what I think it's going to suggest, that it can be an effective tool, we're going to have to deploy it in the most effective way we can," he said.

Via Boing Boing.

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