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Over the last twenty years, there has been a significant increase in the use of closed circuit television (CCTV) systems. Most people are familiar with the use of such systems in locations such as shops, financial institutions, hotels, schools, hospitals, sports stadia and so forth. However, there are also a significant number of public CCTV systems that have been erected and operate in public space areas such as town centres, residential housing estates etc. Some of these CCTV systems are police only or local authority only systems but a growing number are what is termed community-based systems. The principal aim of this study is to explore the development and use of these community-based CCTV systems with the objectives of investigating societal attitudes and perceptions to CCTV in the community, exploring implications for civil liberties and privacy issues and an examination of the evaluation processes to assess the impact of the systems. The researcher adopted a mixed methods approach of both qualitative and quantitative research for this project. For the qualitative aspect, the method of sampling was purposive with eight persons selected for interview on the basis of their knowledge and experience of community-based CCTV systems. For the quantitative aspect, probability sampling was used with members of the general public randomly selected for face-to-face surveys utilising questionnaires. Recorded crime figures were also examined at each location. The results show that, despite a lack of empirical evidence as to their value in preventing or reducing crime, there is strong public support for these systems and that the foundation for much of this support lies in greater feelings of safety generated in areas with CCTV coverage. The results further show that there is a deficit of ongoing evaluation. The researcher recommends that all systems currently in operation should be evaluated on a continuing basis and that these evaluations should include comprehensive crime figure analysis including crime displacement, opinions and attitudes of the local community, technical specifications and operational requirements of the CCTV system. The researcher also recommends that the community become more knowledgeable of the systems and that the presence of CCTV cameras in the area be frequently highlighted and publicised to inform the public and act as a deterrent.
Donnelly, A., "To CCTV or not? An Examination of Community-based CCTV in Ireland". Dublin, DIT, September 2012