Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The fallacy of "crime prevention" cameras

In the last few years there has been a lot of reporting about cities and even countries (England) putting a great deal of trust in the idea that cameras in public areas will deter crime. I don't believe the evidence supports that idea. Here in Lubbock data indicated that on intersections with red light cameras, accidents increased, which was the opposite of the desired effect.

In Dallas they have had cameras for a while. It's interesting to take a look at 3 snapshots in time:

March 21, 2008 - Dallas News reports that cameras placed around the Dallas area have reduced crime. Among items reported as also having an effect in some areas are increased police presence and active neighborhood watch. For some reason their effect on crime is barely acknowledged.

April 27, 2009 - the Grit for Breakfast blog looks at the reported improvement in crime statistics and reveals that while crime was down 11% in camera monitored areas, it was down 18.7% in the rest of Dallas. The author wonders whether a decrease in one areas crime is really a decrease if the rest of the city decreases more. He also points out that Dallas recently changed it's crime reporting policy, and the effect of that has not been factored in.

December 1, 2009 - cbs11tv reports that the cameras have been ineffective deterring crime. In one area the cameras were placed in crime actually increased - and none of the crime was caught on camera.

Crime cameras are not tools of a legitimate republic. They are the tools of totalitarian regimes and serve best as a means to monitor law abiding citizens, not criminals. Criminals will figure out where the cameras are and make sure not to expose themselves. Law abiding citizens will become the monitored while criminals go around the not-so-deterrent.