Private Security and CCTV: The Ultimate Crime-Stopping Duo


Closed-circuit TV (CCTV) surveillance is a popular way to monitor and stop crime. But a new study states that the people behind the cameras are just as important — and their roles shouldn’t go overlooked.

A new study, published in the Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice, found that using private security personnel — rather than solely police or a mix of police and civilian security officers — may be the most effective way to reduce crime in conjunction with CCTV surveillance.

Professor Eric Piza  and Ph.D. student Amanda Thomas (John Jay CollegeThe Graduate Center) co-authored the study titled “Private Security and Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) Surveillance.”

“Private security personnel play an important but largely overlooked role in the operation of CCTV surveillance to prevent crime in public and private areas,” the authors note in the study.

“This role can take a number of forms, including on-site active monitoring of cameras and on the ground responses to crimes in progress captured on cameras.”

Private security personnel both monitor surveillance footage and respond to crime, as opposed to doing one or the other. The researchers examined nearly 100 CCTV studies to determine which of three groups (private security personal, police, or a mix of police and civilian security officers) is most effective in reducing crime.

Use of private security personnel in matters of CCTV surveillance led to crime reductions of about 18%, while use of police led to only 7% reductions, and the “mixed-police” approach 16%.

Still, Piza tells SUM, “I think it is important to consider that all of the system types (police, mixed-police, and private) generated significant crime reductions. I think that suggests that CCTV can be an important part of effective crime reduction programs.”

The researchers hold that policy-makers should consider their findings as CCTV surveillance is continuously used to curb crime.

“There is also a need to better understand why security-led CCTV schemes are more effective in reducing crime,” the authors added. “We think this is long overdue and much needed to guide policy and practice on the use of CCTV surveillance.”

Beyond SUM

Work By

Eric Piza (Associate Professor, Criminal Justice) | Profile 1
Amanda Thomas (Ph.D. Student, Criminal Justice) | Profile 1