U.K. Study Finds Street Lights Cut Crime More Than CCTV Cameras


Improved street lighting is a more effective crime-fighter than more expensive surveillance cameras, according to British government-commissioned research released Wednesday. The British government has made CCTV cameras a big part of its campaign to cut crime, spending millions to install them in shopping streets, sports stadiums, railway stations and other public places. But a study of the cameras’ effect on crime found that, while they “had a significant desirable effect on crime,” the cameras reduced offenses overall by just 4 percent. The research found that CCTV cameras had no effect on violent crimes, but a significant effect on auto theft and vandalism. While cameras in urban areas reduced crime by just 2 percent, cameras in parking lots cut car crime by 41 percent.

Meanwhile, a separate survey of street lighting found that better, brighter lighting cut overall crime by 20 percent. The reports assessed 34 major studies of CCTV and street lighting published in Britain and North America between 1978 and 2000. The Home Office said it had allocated 170 million pounds for CCTV technology across England and Wales between 1999 and 2003, and had put tens of millions more into separate CCTV programs aimed at small shopkeepers and drug-plagued neighborhoods.

The civil liberties group Privacy Intâ??l has estimated there are as many as 1.5 million CCTV cameras in Britain. The Home Office said it could not say how much was spent in Britain on street lighting, which is funded by local authorities rather than the central government. The government said the studies supported its strategy of using a “package” of crime-prevention measures.

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