A realist approach to CCTV research to address alcohol-related assault in the night-time economy. Report to the Criminological Research Council, September 2014

Pointing, Boris (2014) A realist approach to CCTV research to address alcohol-related assault in the night-time economy. Report to the Criminological Research Council, September 2014. External Commissioned Report. James Cook University, Cairns, QLD, Australia. (Unpublished)

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[Extract] Executive Summary "… the human component of CCTV is what makes observation possible... increased resources toward 'human aspects' of surveillance may be necessary to ensure maximum efficiency of CCTV." (Piza et al, 2012), p23.

The core concept of scientific Realism is simple; researchers should seek to discover and explicitly explain how the program theories in an intervention are supposed to work, then measure if they do. This research project utilises a Realist approach. This report identifies and begins refining some implicit theories underlying open-space, urban CCTV effectiveness in addressing alcohol-related assault in night-time economies. Firstly a Realist Synthesis explores the literature to discover the theories upon which published research into this issue is based. A case study approach then compares a Realist Evaluation of the Cairns Regional Council's CCTV system with those theoretical findings. The findings are used to recommend operational improvements for existing CCTV systems, as well as policy directions and future research into important crime reduction mechanisms. This report comprises three parts. The first part is the description of a project funded by the Criminological Research Council which aimed to identify and refine the theoretical bases of how open-space urban CCTV systems which are owned and managed by local governments reduce alcohol-related assaults within the night-time economy (NTE). Realism aims to understand what works for whom, why, how and when (Tilley, 2004). This section provides practical, operational and strategic suggestions to system managers and operators which will improve system effectiveness. For example, it is suggested that ongoing formalised workshops between council and police management to enhance real-time communication and response between the camera room and police on the ground improves speed of deployment and can promote a perception within NTE patrons of a zero-tolerance approach to public disorder. This section also contains recommendations on a strategic program for policy makers and funders. For example, the Realist approach facilitates a multi-site, quasi-experimental design to refine CCTV effectiveness regarding this type of assault. Such a study is recommended. The second part of this report is a methodological commentary on the scientific Realist research processes used to conduct the project. It aims to encourage other criminological researchers to consider this approach as part of the methodological suite. It provides a pragmatic guide for researchers to problems the author experienced in conducting this realist research project and offer examples of how these problems were overcome, as well as listing relevant research resources which were used to do so. The third part is an examination of scientific Realism as applied to this criminological research project, and the illumination of some under-discussed mechanisms related to the use of CCTV to prevent crime in public spaces. While many operational and strategic processes within the use of CCTV systems are merely complicated, some of the mechanisms on which it relies, such as deterrence, are complex. Scientific Realism states that reality has a number of levels which can be measured and explored. Some mechanisms which cause change exist at the deep level of reality. These deep mechanisms have an impact on the effectiveness of open-space CCTV as a crime reduction tool. This section attempts to reintroduce a more critical criminological analysis of CCTV, through a Realist lens. This section contains no puns, but does begin to explore a feminist critique of CCTV monitoring in public spaces, and the public/private policing divide when viewed within the current Federal policy framework of contestability (Shepherd, Boxall, Cole, Fisher, & Vanstone, 2014). While CCTV is a place-based crime control strategy, it requires human monitoring to be maximally effective and should include real-time communication links to police and private security on the ground. The role of camera operators is critical in incident detection, real-time deployment and provision of intelligence on-scene, as well as in supporting police investigative and prosecutorial functions, and in gathering quantitative and contextual data on assault hot-spots. More than $21 million of capital funding for CCTV infrastructure has been provided through the Commonwealth Proceeds of Crime and associated programs between 2007 and the beginning of the 2014 calendar year. This report offers evidence to more efficiently plan and allocate future resources, as well as potentially improve the efficiency and effectiveness of existing CCTV systems through focusing on the human processes underlying them.

Item ID: 35691
Item Type: Report (External Commissioned Report)
Keywords: CCTV; assault; alcohol
Funders: Criminological Research Council
Projects and Grants: Grant CRG 24/13-14
Date Deposited: 09 Nov 2016 02:03
FoR Codes: 16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1602 Criminology > 160201 Causes and Prevention of Crime @ 60%
16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1602 Criminology > 160204 Criminological Theories @ 40%
SEO Codes: 94 LAW, POLITICS AND COMMUNITY SERVICES > 9404 Justice and the Law > 940402 Crime Prevention @ 40%
94 LAW, POLITICS AND COMMUNITY SERVICES > 9401 Community Service (excl. Work) > 940112 Families and Family Services @ 40%
94 LAW, POLITICS AND COMMUNITY SERVICES > 9401 Community Service (excl. Work) > 940117 Structure, Delivery and Financing of Community Services @ 20%
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