Surveillance is the observation of activities, behavior, or information, thereby facilitating information, managing, influencing, or direction. There are several methods in which surveillance can be done, for instance, through the installation of cameras. Thus, installing public surveillance can include interception of electronically transmitted information, observation from a distance by means of electronic equipment, for instance, closed-circuit television (CCTV), or technical methods such as postal interception and human intelligence gathering. Globally, the camera surveillance market in 2015 was a rise to $ 37.7 Billion from $11.5 Billion in 2008 (Schuck, 2017). Through research conducted in Europe, it was found out that 78% of the population support the use of public surveillance cameras. This paper aims at discussing the benefits and drawbacks of the installation of surveillance cameras in public places.
There are several advantages associated with the presence of surveillance cameras in the public places. First of all, surveillance cameras installed in public places improves public safety. Safety is one of the important aspects considered in the public places such as public parks, neighborhoods and other municipal places (Gustav, 2017). It can be a big challenge for law enforcement departments to control and monitor people in the crowds to determine whether there are problems in the public. Most of the security cameras are designed to record important details during the recording of an event or activity. Therefore, when the criminals realize that there are security cameras in the public places, they are likely to refrain from performing their criminal activities (Chapple, 2020). This in turn makes the people in the public places feel safe while in the public places.
Lastly, Video cameras staged in public places provide evidence of crimes. Security cameras record all events occurring in the public places. Therefore, if installed in the public places, the security cameras can record potential security threats and the perpetrators of criminal events in the public places. The videos can therefore be used to reach the criminals and be used as an evidence against them. Some of the cameras are also designed to record and identify potential criminals in the public places (Ashby, 2017). Therefore, the recorded videos can be used to prove the fact these are dangerous people and be used against them in the court of law.
Although surveillance cameras are meant to enhance the security of the people in the public places, they also have their drawbacks. First of all, the surveillance cameras infringe on people’s privacy. For example, if someone robs a bank, the news outlet will show the footage to the public, the police apprehends the suspect and the victory goes to the surveillance cameras. However, all the faces recorded by the cameras are shown to the public including during shopping and this makes those in the public feel uncomfortable since they believe that their privacies have been infringed on. People might therefore end up fearing from going to public places because they might have a belief that the videos can be used to spy on them and even attack them (Schuck, 2017).
Surveillance systems and video footages can be easily manipulated. Some people have high knowledge about surveillance cameras and therefore they can easily bypass them and can easily manipulate them. Additionally, the recorded videos can also be manipulated after abstaining them from the cameras’ storage points thus making them unreliable. This therefore means that the videos presented as evidence against the criminals can also show the events that occurred during the crime (Schuck, 2017). Therefore, security cameras cannot be trusted because even the controllers such as the security agencies can manipulate them to protect some powerful people from facing the wrath of the laws.
From the discussion above, it can be seen that surveillance cameras in the public places has both advantages and disadvantages. On the advantages, it has been found that surveillance cameras improves public safety and also provides evidence for crimes committed in the public places. On the disadvantages, it has been found that surveillance cameras infringe on people’s privacy and are also prone to manipulation by criminals and security authorities. Because security surveillance cameras improves public places’ safety and thus should be installed in public places to monitor criminal activities and ensure people’s security at a specific location. Therefore, to prevent abuse and manipulation of evidence from these cameras, security professionals and the trusted person should manage the surveillance systems.
Ashby, M. P. J. (2017). The Value of CCTV Surveillance Cameras as an Investigative Tool: An Empirical Analysis. European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research, 23(3), 441-459. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10610-017-9341-6
Chapple, M. (2020). Access control, authentication, and public key infrastructure. Jones & Bartlett Publishers.
Gustav, A. (2017). Surveillance cameras and crime: a review of randomized and natural experiments. Journal of Scandinavian Studies in Criminology and Crime Prevention, 18:2, 210-222. 10.1080/14043858.2017.1387410
Schuck, A. M. (2017). Prevalence and Predictors of Surveillance Cameras in Law Enforcement. Criminal Justice Policy Review, 28(1), 41-60. https://doi.org/10.1177/0887403415570631