CCTV policy in the UK: Reconsidering the evidence base



Webster CWR (2009) CCTV policy in the UK: Reconsidering the evidence base. Surveillance and Society, 6 (1), pp. 10-22.

This article presents a longitudinal review of CCTV policy in the UK. In particular, it reconsiders the diffusion of CCTV cameras and systems in public places in relation to the current commitment to the development of ‘evidence based’ public policy and services. In the case of CCTV this evidence is usually assumed to be reductions in crime and the fear of crime as measured by crime statistics. However, for CCTV the evidence base can be disputed with systems not having the impact on crime that many take for granted. This raises important questions about the rationale for, and evidence base behind, CCTV policy and practice. These concerns are examined in this article through the exploration of a series of ‘myths’, or misconceptions about CCTV. The critical issue is that if CCTV does not work then how can we explain its widespread introduction and ongoing use? Here the article posits that a ‘policy perspective’ approach to understanding the CCTV revolution is illuminating as it highlights the complex intertwined interactions between government, policy-makers, the media and other stakeholders, and that CCTV does not necessarily have to ‘work’ if it meets other purposes. The article also presents evidence that CCTV policy is being reviewed, not just in relation to its established evidence base, but also in relation to the emergence of concerns raised about the cost of running systems.

; Privacy, Right of.; Social control; Electronic surveillance

Surveillance and Society: Volume 6, Issue 1

Publication date31/12/2009
PublisherSurveillance Studies Network (SSN)
Publisher URL…le/view/evidence

People (1)


Professor William Webster

Professor William Webster

Personal Chair, Management, Work and Organisation