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Program Profile: CCTV in Five English Cities

Evidence Rating: Promising - One study Promising - One study

Date: This profile was posted on August 31, 2011

Program Summary

Closed circuit television cameras were installed in five English town and city centers to reduce crime. The program is rated Promising. Visits to emergency departments for assault-related injuries decreased. Although police-recorded violence increased in both the intervention and control sites, it increased more in the intervention sites than the control sites--a variation across sites and not statistically significant.

Program Description

Program Goals/Components

Closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras were installed in five urban center entertainment districts that attract economic activity at night and relatively high pedestrian and vehicle traffic. The towns and cities were Ashford, Eastbourne, Lincoln, Newport (Isle of Wight), and Peterborough. Cameras were installed to reduce crime and ran 24 hours a day.


In all but Eastbourne—where the police installed the cameras—the cameras were installed by the local council. These systems were linked with the police through dedicated telephone lines in the CCTV control rooms. Any actions taken as a result of information on assaults or precursors to violence were taken by the police.


Program Theory

The use of CCTV cameras is thought to reduce crime through various mechanisms. For instance, by increasing the perceived risk of offending, potential offenders may choose not to offend. By increasing actual detection through surveillance, early intervention may be possible to avert a crime or violence, and offenders may be removed. If surveillance leads to the early detection of precursors to violence, injuries may decrease.

Evaluation Outcomes

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Study 1

Assault-Related Emergency Department Visits

Sivarajasingam and colleagues (2003) found that visits to emergency departments (EDs) for assault-related injuries decreased by 3 percent in the intervention sites and increased by 11 percent in the control sites. This difference was statistically significant. There was variation across the sites. For instance, in the control sites only Poole’s assault-related ED visits did not change significantly over the 4 years. In the intervention sites, there was a significant reduction in assault-related ED visits in Eastbourne, Newport, and Peterborough, but a significant increase in Lincoln.


Police-Recorded Violence

Police-recorded violence increased in both the intervention and control sites. Although it increased more in the intervention sites (11 percent) than in the control sites (5 percent), the difference was not statistically significant. There was variation across the sites. For instance, in only one of the five control centers (Chelmsford) were there significantly more violent offenses recorded by police in the last 2 years (1997–99) compared with the first 2 years (1995–97). In the intervention centers, there were significant increases in police-detected violence in Eastbourne and Peterborough, but no change in rates in the other three centers.

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Evaluation Methodology

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Study 1

Sivarajasingam and colleagues (2003) assessed the impact of closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras on increases in the detection of violent crime and decreases in emergency department (ED) visits for assault-related injuries.


The researchers used ED visits as a proxy for overall violence because of the close proximity of city centers and hospital facilities in most English cities (which would mean that injuries occurring in the city centers would be treated by the nearby hospital). Since other types of violence (e.g., domestic, workplace violence) would not be affected by the installation of CCTV in public spaces, a drop in overall ED visit rates was interpreted as the result of reductions in assault-related urban violence.


Comparison sites—Chelmsford, Derby, Huntingdon, Poole, and Scarborough—had no cameras. It was impossible for the researchers to match the towns/cities closely, but the five selected were from the same geographical region and had approximately the same population.


Data was collected from spring 1995 to spring 1999, which provided 2 years of data before the installation of cameras and 2 years of postimplementation data. All centers had data available. ED data was collected on assault-related visits from the hospitals. Violent offenses data related to assault and wounding was collected by the local police. No data was identifiable at the individual level.

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There is no cost information available for this program.
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Evidence-Base (Studies Reviewed)

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These sources were used in the development of the program profile:

Study 1
Sivarajasingam, Vaseekaran, Jonathan P. Shepherd, and Kent Matthews. 2003. "Effect of Urban Closed Circuit Television on Assault Injury and Violence Detection." Injury Prevention 9:312–16.
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Related Practices

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Following are practices that are related to this program:

Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) Surveillance
Public surveillance systems include a network of cameras and components for monitoring, recording, and transmitting video images. The ultimate goal of installing public surveillance cameras is to reduce both property and personal crime. The practice was rated Promising for reducing overall crime and property offenses (i.e. vehicle crimes), but rated No Effects on impacting violent crime.

Evidence Ratings for Outcomes:
Promising - One Meta-Analysis Crime & Delinquency - Multiple crime/offense types
Promising - One Meta-Analysis Crime & Delinquency - Property offenses
No Effects - One Meta-Analysis Crime & Delinquency - Violent offenses
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Program Snapshot

Gender: Both

Geography: Urban

Setting (Delivery): Other Community Setting

Program Type: Community Crime Prevention , Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design/Design Against Crime, Situational Crime Prevention, General deterrence

Current Program Status: Active

Listed by Other Directories: Campbell Collaboration