Objectives: This study was designed to test the effect of increased certainty of punishment on reported crime levels in CCTV target areas of Newark, NJ. The experimental strategy was designed for the purpose of overcoming specific surveillance barriers that minimize the effectiveness of CCTV, namely high camera-to-operator ratios and the differential response policy of police dispatch. An additional camera operator was deployed to monitor specific CCTV cameras, with two patrol cars dedicated to exclusively responding to incidents of concern detected on the experimental cameras.
Methods: A randomized controlled trial was implemented in the analysis. A randomized block design was used to assign each of the 38 CCTV schemes to either a treatment or control group. Schemes were grouped into pairs based upon their levels of three types of calls for service: violent crime, social disorder, and narcotics activity. Negative binomial regression models tested the effect that assignment to the treatment group had on levels of the aforementioned crime categories.
Results: The experimental strategy was associated with significant reductions of violent crime and social disorder in the treatment areas relative to the control areas. Incidence Rate Ratio (IRR) and Total Net Effect (TNE) values suggest that the number of crime incidents prevented was sizable in numerous instances. The experiment had much less of an effect on narcotics activity.
Conclusions: Overall, the findings support the hypothesis that the integration of CCTV with proactive police activity generates a crime control benefit greater than what research suggests is achievable via "stand-alone" camera deployment, particularly in the case of street-level crime.