The Benefits and Handicaps of CCTV Surveillance Systems


Nov 30, 2013 (3 years and 4 months ago)


“The Benefits and Handicaps of CCTV Surveillance Systems”

By: Steven MacGillivray

Student number: 200905055

Presented to: Mr. S. Marmura

Soci 100.15

ember 3
, 2009


The usage of
surveillance systems may help if there is a criminal act within its
boundaries, but there are several problems which could cause it to be unreliable.

The article “

and (In)dividuation

written by Heather Cameron, an
d explains the

of CCTV video surveillance systems. Cameron
that CCTV and all other
video surveillance systems have several flaws, such as many technological problems such
as distortion or bad lighting which could lead to an unreliable pictu
re of the intended

This article also implies that the use of biometrics would do a better job
identifying individuals rather then a photograph of the person.

perspective is in
article by Marcus Gee “
We'd be safer with a camera on e
very corner


argues that increasing the amount of cameras on the streets would cause a safer
environment for everyone.
He uses a specific example of an unsolved murder that
happened, and that cameras should have been located around that scene
and this could
have helped
bring the murderers to justice.

As “
CCTV and (In)dividuation
” details there are many problem with the usage of
CCTV , photographs, or any video surveillance systems. As it may be easier and
technologically simpler to use a phot
ograph to identify someone, biometrics would do a
much more accurate job. Such methods as fingerprints, iris scans or voice prints are
virtually perfect. Although they can have
flaws they have a much better success
rate then a photograph.
claim to be a more reliable identification method
than photographs and provide another example of the drive to reduce access slippage.”

(Cameron, 2004: 137)

An example was used in the article showing some of the major
defects to the use of photographs to i
dentify a person. A prison
er, who was still meant to
be doing time, used another prisoners’ identification card that was that was suppose to be


released that day. Since there were few differences between the two

appearances they ended up releasi
ng the wrong inmate. Due to this event they changed
their method to using iris scans which can not be borrowed or stolen.

(Cameron, 2004: 137)

Biometrics is now a rapidly growing technology with that is
starting to be used in airports. About 17,000 Canadi
ans and Americans have purchased a
readable Canpass Air card through a program run by the Canada Border
Services Agency and Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

In the article “
CCTV and (In)dividuation
”, Cameron argues that the use of CCTV
is unp
roductive and should not be
. She explains that there are to

many problems
and there are to

many circumstances that the result would be useless.

There are
technological problems and there are problems with our perspective and how we interpret
the ima
ges we see. There are many technological problems such as things like bad
lighting, the intended image could be to far away for a clear picture, or even if the
intended image is not on a
specific angle.

(Cameron, 2004: 137) All of these examples

could caus
e blurred images or distortion, which would result in the image being
unreliable or even useless. The problems wi
th how we interpret the images c
ould be that
“vision is influenced by memory and what we expect to see”… “new information can
only break throug
h with great difficulty.”

(Cameron, 2004: 139) This causes a great
handicap for video surveillance because what the witness thinks is happening could be
the exact opposite of the truth.


The article “
We'd be safer with a camera on every corner
” by Marcus
Gee, draws
upon one specific event that happened in the Toronto area. A man named Christopher
Skinner was downtown around 3 a.m. when he got in an argument with two other men. It
is believed that the two men beat him and knocked him out and laid him on the

before running over his motionless body with the SUV. There were no cameras around
that location so the police had no leads to go on. Gee believes CCTV’s could have caught
these men, and that they are “an invaluable crime
fighting tool. Even if you d
on’t capture
the actual crime, they can help police build a timeline of what happened when, identify
potential witnesses and corroborate or rebut evidence later given in court.”
(Gee, 2009)
Also if you have many CCTV systems set up, and you advertise that
you are doing such.
The criminals would know that they are potentially being watched so they could be
scared, possibly too scared to commit the crime. A case study took place in two relatively
small towns that are very similar economically with population
and crime rates. The two
towns were Gillingham and Strood.

, n.d.:17) In 1996 they both got a CCTV
system in there town.
They compared the results of pre CCTV and post CCTV.
The stats
show only
‘impulsive’ crimes had no pattern such as robberies
or criminal damage. The
only criteria that increased in both towns were drug usage and violence. Every other
crime type dropped, with a major decrease in shoplifting and theft of motor vehicle.
, n.d.:31,


33) In general

the usage of CCTV in
these towns caused a
decrease in crime rate
s of most crime types.


Town Centre CCTV:

An Examination of Crime Reduction in Gillingham, Kent.

Matthew Griffiths