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NCJ Number: 202101 Find in a Library
Title: Police Surveillance and the Emergence of CCTV in the 1960's
Journal: Crime Prevention and Community Safety: An International Journal  Volume:5  Issue:3  Dated:2003  Pages:27-37
Author(s): Chris A. Williams
Date Published: 2003
Page Count: 11
Type: Historical Overview
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United Kingdom
Annotation: This essay identifies and discusses some landmarks in the history of police surveillance in Britain, focusing on the use of closed circuit television (CCTV).
Abstract: After reviewing surveillance in the context of policing in general, the essay reviews the emergence of CCTV as a surveillance option for British police. In the late 1950's, police forces (beginning with Durham in 1956) began using CCTV to assist in the one-man operation of traffic lights. The technical skill required for such work was not great, nor was its impact on existing police practice. A discussion of the use for CCTV in the 1960's notes that placing CCTV cameras was relatively easy; the problem was putting the images into the control room where senior police officers were located. By 1969, 14 different police forces were using CCTV, representing 67 cameras in use nationwide. Only four of the forces were using video recorders in any way. In the 1960's and 1970's, technological constraints made any general and total public surveillance prohibitively expensive, due primarily to the high cost of transmission. A discussion of the theoretical implications of this historical perspective suggests that, overall, the history of CCTV surveillance by police adds weight to the argument that technology's use is socially constrained and constructed by existing institutional forms that determine and channel technology's functions. In controlling crime, there is little evidence to date that CCTV has had a great impact. Its symbolic impact as a deterrent, however, is believed by police forces to be significant. Further, it expands the visual surveillance of the police without having to increase the number of officers. 64 notes
Main Term(s): Police crime-prevention
Index Term(s): Closed circuit television (CCTV); Electronic surveillance; Foreign police; History of policing; Surveillance
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