Monday, November 04, 2013

More evidence that CCTV makes us feel less secure

A year ago I blogged about research, carried out on a Peabody Trust housing estate in central London, that suggested people feel more anxious in neighbourhoods policed by CCTV cameras. Today at work I came across some more research that reached the same conclusion.

In 2009 the British Psychological Society's Research Digest reported on a recent study:
Dave Williams and Jobuda Ahmed presented 120 participants - shoppers in Hatfield - with pictures of a fictional town centre street scene. When the scene contained both a skinhead and a CCTV camera, the participants, aged between 18 to 70 years, reported raised concern about walking in the scene, compared with when the same scene was either empty, contained a woman with or without a CCTV camera, or a skinhead without a camera. In other words, it was specifically the combination of a skinhead and CCTV that provoked fear - neither had any effect on their own. 
The presence of a CCTV camera seemed to cue participants' prejudices about skinheads, thus inducing fear. This supposition was supported when participants were asked to write a paragraph on a "day in the life of" either the male skinhead or the smartly dressed woman. When a CCTV camera was present in the scene, but not otherwise, participants wrote an account of the skinhead's day that betrayed their prejudices, for example one account stated that he had "outstayed his welcome in the cafe".

1 comment:

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