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Step 3: Establishing objectives

Public space CCTV systems tend to operate with different objectives. Establishing clear objectives will influence how the CCTV system develops and is later evaluated. Without clear objectives and a clear understanding of what can be expected from a CCTV system, it will be difficult to determine effectiveness.

The City of Sydney's (NSW) Council Street Safe Camera program (City of Sydney Council 2005) has the following objectives:

  • to assist in the prevention of crimes against the person, particularly the following:
  • armed robbery;
  • robbery with wounding;
  • robbery in company of others;
  • extortion;
  • assault;
  • assault occasioning grievous bodily harm;
  • assault occasioning actual bodily harm;
  • sexual assault; and
  • aggravated sexual assault.
  • to assist in the prevention of other serious criminal offences, particularly the following:
  • stealing a motor vehicle;
  • stealing from a motor vehicle;
  • other stealing;
  • break and enter;
  • malicious damage to property;
  • firearm offences;
  • receiving stolen goods; and
  • dealing and/or trafficking in drugs.

In contrast, the Orange City Council (NSW) has identified the following objectives in their Code of Practice: Crime Prevention through CCTV Project (Orange City Council 2008):

  • to reduce crime levels by deterring potential offenders;
  • to reduce fear of crime;
  • to help ensure an effective police response in emergency situations;
  • to assist in the detection and prosecution of offenders; and
  • to help secure a safer environment for those people who live in, work in and visit Orange's CBD.

Box 5: Expert insights 1

Apart from cost, what should local governments consider in establishing a public space CCTV network?

In my opinion, the key question to be considered when installing CCTV is whether it actually addresses the issues it is supposed to. Councils really need to consider CCTV as only one crime prevention measure among many possibilities.

Would other community safety strategies be just as, or more, effective in terms of cost, social justice and community wellbeing, and sustainably address the issue without generating other undesirable consequences?

Source: Dr Dean Wilson, Monash University, Victoria, personal communication (2009)

Box 6: Real life example 2—Deciding what to do when there are different expectations for the CCTV system (City of Wanneroo, WA)

During the consultation stage, the City of Wanneroo was faced with having to figure out the best way to deal with their stakeholders' different expectations for the CCTV system. The CCTV project team were unable to find a guide to help them make an informed decision, so they came up with a creative solution themselves.

The CCTV team devised a template matrix system in which they rated each suggestion according to its statistical analysis suitability, local crime knowledge and its administration rating, such as the possibility of it being implemented within council guidelines. This matrix also took into account statistics around antisocial behaviour among particular areas within the city. A community safety working group was also devised and provided input into the location of the cameras.

Applying the system consistently was considered the fairest and most practical way to determine where CCTV was needed. This approach also allowed the council to justify why and how the CCTV sites were chosen to the community and their stakeholders.

'The locations nominated for the CCTV cameras are based on a balance of perceived and recorded crime and antisocial behaviour activity locations. As the locations (chosen) reflect a combination of these aspects, it is likely that perception and real time data will reflect a positive impact on both crime and antisocial activity in the nominated areas.'

(City of Wanneroo staff member, personal communication 2009)

These two examples show different approaches to establishing objectives for a public space CCTV system. The objectives developed for the City of Sydney CCTV public space system focus on specific crime types, with greater weight given to crimes against the person. In contrast, the objectives for the Orange City Council public space CCTV system seek to achieve more diverse outcomes.

Box 7: Practitioner comments—Mobile CCTV

Given that Swan Council is about to embark on using mobile CCTV technology, could you describe how this will work and why you have augmented your fixed camera system with mobile units?

The City of Swan is looking at implementing the most flexible model for CCTV technology within its district. We realise that there is a need for fixed systems and they have a function and purpose in our overall strategy of developing a CCTV network. However, in an area of over 1,000 square kilometres, it is not economically viable to look at a fixed system to service the entire area.

Mobile CCTV technology will provide us with the flexibility to put cameras in hot spots or identified areas that are experiencing certain activities. Invariably, once strategies are put in place and activity decreases, then the systems can be deployed to other areas. In the City of Swan, we see one of the main advantages of this type of system is its portability, especially when you want to monitor events that only occur infrequently.

Source: Jeremy Edwards (Manager Community Safety and Places, City of Swan) Personal Communication 2009