No one would doubt that our closed-circuit television (CCTV) systems boast technologically advanced cameras. They can zoom in. They can rotate. They can even record in high resolution.
But here’s the real question: Can CCTVs help you detect crime and potential security breaches before they happen and prevent serious losses?
The answer is, well, yes and no.
CCTV’s Need Trained Security Guards at the Helm
How can CCTV prevent crime? The answer is through the person observing their output. Though CCTVs operate automatically, they’re at their most effective with a person behind the monitor. Indeed, no CCTV can stop a break-in by itself, but with the aid of an alert security guard, they can provide advanced notice that will help stop a crime in progress — or before it even begins.
Location Matters for CCTV Success
Though people are an important part of any security system, specific situations and environments matter too. Suppose your business is situated in a high-crime area, a place where people have grown used to seeing cameras peeping out at them. In such places, a CCTV system won’t do much to deter break-ins. In a low-crime area, though, it would be an entirely different matter. The mere thought of a lens recording a perpetrator’s actions stops many break-ins before they even start.
Don’t think that you shouldn’t install a CCTV system if you’re property is located in a neighborhood with a lot of crime. While CCTV may not provide as much of a deterrent effect, it can still safeguard your facility. For instance, situating a camera at a specific angle near an entrance so that it can capture the faces of any unauthorized entrants helps your system provide actionable evidence for authorities.
CCTV as an Effective Crime Deterrent
Does CCTV really serve as an effective deterrent, though? Evidence suggests that it does. A 2019 meta review by the academic journal Criminology & Public Policy examined multiple studies and concluded that CCTVs worked well, but should “not be deployed as a ‘stand‐alone’ crime prevention measure.” In other words, CCTV should serve as an important part of any security system — but not the only part. When it comes to your specific site, let AT&I provide a professional evaluation to decide what role CCTV should play.
How CCTVs can Help Reduce Crime Outside Your Property
If CCTV reduces crime (and it does), just how does it manage it? The analysis conducted by Criminology & Public Policy showed that such systems have multiple effects. CCTVs force criminals to think twice before attempting a crime, make security personnel and bystanders more vigilant, and assist police in apprehending criminals.
How can CCTV Security Systems Protect my Business?
Although the number of crimes solved by surveillance continues to rise, there’s more to surveillance cameras than simply documenting crimes caught on camera. Part of the reason why security cameras are important goes beyond the technology itself (although well-functioning systems certainly provide vital protection). Simply prepping your property for proper CCTV installation helps reduce crime. Consider that you’ll need to remove visual clutter, keep outside areas well lit, and have hedges and trees carefully pruned. Such steps both help CCTVs reduce burglary and facilitate CCTV crime prevention.
Real-life Application of CCTV Security Systems
CCTV security systems do a lot more than merely deter theft. In addition to providing coverage of retail and multi-family residential establishments, they also offer the following benefits:
- Ensuring employee compliance with safety standards
- Deterring the theft of fixed assets such as copper tubing, HVAC units, construction equipment, etc.
- Monitoring animals in zoos, wildlife refuges, national parks, and safaris
- Examining operations to improve productivity
- Bolstering public safety in parks and other public spaces
- Monitoring highways to improve traffic flow and manage accidents
The Impact of Feeling Safer with a CCTV System
Another benefit of CCTV is that it helps people feel safer. For instance, a study by European Journal of Criminology that focused on publicly placed surveillance cameras stated that the public felt more comfortable in the city after dark. More research conducted by the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education and Human Development stated that high-school students felt safer when cameras were trained on parking lots, entrances, and exits. CCTVs generally have a powerful psychological effect.
Advanced Technology: Not All CCTVs Are Equal
The fact that CCTVs come with advanced features also has an impact. In addition to making people feel better, these high-tech options increase their effectiveness. Once a break-in begins, the presence of equipment that detects sounds, arms when alerted to movement, and syncs with mobile devices helps alert property owners virtually instantaneously. Make no mistake: These systems go far beyond passive recording and into active prevention.
Using CCTV to Provide Evidence
While all CCTV systems aim to prevent or reduce crimes, they offer another advantage: They provide evidence in case of legal action. Like all legal matters, admissibility can prove tricky, hinging on all manner of factors. But that shouldn’t make you believe that CCTV is unimportant. Quite to the contrary! A 2009 article by The Telegraph proclaimed that roughly seven out of 10 murders were solved thanks to CCTV footage. The academic journal PNAS concluded that surveillance video was so influential that even the speed at which it was played back impacted juries’ opinions on cases. The application is clear. If you believe that a crime committed on or near your property could embroil you in a trial, it just makes sense to invest in a CCTV system. What’s more, these systems often help investigators, and CCTV in criminal investigations can help secure convictions and recoup losses.
A Trusted Security Company as a Partner
A final piece of the CCTV puzzle is a third-party security company, the kind that provides both the technology and the service to connect with a client before, during, and after incidents. Sure, you can self-manage a CCTV system, but a company can take an otherwise challenging chore and make it easy. What can such a company provide? Notification of suspicious activities. Automatic alarms. Alerting the authorities when a breach occurs. Remotely locking down a building. With such steps, you can rest easy knowing that your risk of loss is minimized.