Acabo de ler as conclusões do relatório sobre o uso das CCTV, “Assessing the Impact of CCTV”, do Home Office Research Study (2005), no Reino Unido. As conclusões reforçam mais uma vez a ineficiência das câmeras, o determinismo e a fé tecnocrática, bem como o gasto de dinheiro público. Aqui no Brasil, a adoção tem sido crescente e o discurso da segurança pela vigilância está presente em todos os debates nas atuais campanhas para prefeitos nas principais capitais brasileiras.
Vejam que em muitas passagens da conclusão do relatório o que está em jogo é a (in)eficiência das câmeras (e o problema apontado na gestão dos dispositivos e dessas informações/imagens). Não há questionamento sobre o princípio, sobre a criação e a expansão de uma sociedade hiper-vigilante onde a mobilidade é esquadrinhada em tempo real, onde banalizar olhares intrusivos pode gerar mostruosidades individuais e coletivas.
Vejam alguns trechos da conclusão do relatório:
“(…) It would be easy to conclude from the information presented in this report that CCTV is not effective: the majority of the schemes evaluated did not reduce crime and even where there was a reduction this was mostly not due to CCTV; nor did CCTV schemes make people feel safer, much less change their behaviour. That, however, would be too simplistic a conclusion, and for several reasons.
(…) Thus there was a tendency to put up cameras and expect impressive results, ignoring the challenge of making what is quite a complex measure work (replicating the findings of Ditton et al. 1999), and failing to define what exactly the CCTV system was expected to do. In the first place, the crime problem must be defined properly, but some agencies failed to do this despite previous experience in this field. Consequently, CCTV was installed in areas and circumstances where it was unlikely to be effective. It is also a mistake to install a large number of cameras just because funding is available. Similarly, the installation of CCTV requires more than the production of a technically competent system; generally, project designers did reasonably well in this regard. However, systems have to be monitored properly or recordings made and stored properly; but the quality of this work varied considerably from one control room to another. Hence the researchers were often not evaluating carefully designed systems which addressed clearly defined crime and disorder
problems, so much as failures of implementation.
(…) As the objectives were not the driving force and were rarely embedded in day-to-day practice, the failure to achieve crime prevention objectives was arguably less the failure of CCTV as a crime prevention measure than of the way it was managed.
Neither did project-designers think through how CCTV would fit alongside other measures already in place, or soon to be introduced, in order to achieve the optimum effect. Yet, more ambitious claims for CCTV can be made when it is used alongside other measures and implemented with an awareness of the potential pitfalls that this study has highlighted. At the very least CCTV has potential.
Perhaps a balanced judgement of the success of any measure – and one that is not often discussed in crime-prevention evaluations – should be reserved for times when the measure is working to its full potential and is installed correctly and in the right place. How useful are lessons about the effectiveness of measures that are still not fully developed? There is no doubt, judging by the information presented here, that this country is still learning how to use CCTV.
There were many instances of the successful use of CCTV which could not be measured by changes in crime, or even fear of crime. These included finding missing children, encouraging residents or visitors to visit an area, and acting as a catalyst to attract more funding into an area. Similarly, CCTV was used extensively as a means of controlling alcohol – related and other anti-social behaviour in town and city centres, monitoring and dispersing large groups of individuals, and moving on what many operators termed ‘undesirables’, such as beggars and on-street traders.
Finally, although the public for the most part did not feel safer, and despite their perceiving CCTV as less effective than they initially thought, they were still predominantly in favour of its use. Even though they concluded that it did not reduce crime, there was no pressure to have it removed, and there were no major concerns, once people had experienced CCTV, about infringement of civil liberties.
Going forward: building on the positive
There were some circumstances and some conditions in which CCTV appeared to be effective. It is perhaps helpful to discuss these as they provide clues to how to make the best use of CCTV in the future. The following factors are relevant to the explanation of successes and failures.
First, the type of area was important. Generalising for a moment, the findings suggest that CCTV works in small, enclosed areas. Much has been made of car parks, but there was some evidence of success in residential areas. (…)
Second, there is some evidence that the greater the density of camera coverage of an area, the greater the chance of reducing crime. This is perhaps unsurprising, but there is no hard and fast rule and the characteristics of the area must be taken into account. (…)
Third, there is some evidence to suggest that CCTV was more effective in tackling acquisitive crimes, supporting the findings of earlier studies (see for instance Deismann, 2003; Brown, 1995). In particular, levels of theft of motor vehicles decreased in the majority of projects, although CCTV was often a contributing factor and not the sole reason for this decrease.
Fourth, CCTV was sometimes effective in addressing crime when used for ‘special initiatives’. Some schemes targeted specific issues such as drug or alcohol-related offences, and on these – especially when working closely with the police – the initiatives showed some success. CCTV operators were often an important part of these operations.
Fifth, the relationship with the police is important. As the control room studies showed, there was considerable scope for improvement here, but where the police showed an active interest, especially by providing intelligence to guide monitoring, or by acting on operators’ findings, or better still, providing some operator presence in the control room, then CCTV could be very effective.
Sixth, and this overlaps with the previous point, CCTV operated most effectively in conjunction with other crime-reduction measures (for example, Retail and Pub Radio, community wardens, and police operations). (…) However, the way in which CCTV was integrated into or was used in conjunction with other measures was often insufficiently thought through, and getting this right can help in optimising the effectiveness of the response to crime.
A seventh issue relates to the level of lighting. This has long since been recognised as an integral part of a CCTV system but it is easy to get it wrong, to pay insufficient attention to it, or to be prevented (by financial or other constraints) from addressing the matter effectively. In a number of residential areas, the lighting was too low, making night-time viewing difficult and compromising the quality of images produced. Conversely, where new lighting was added, or where cameras were positioned too close to existing lighting, this sometimes led to strobing or glare on the image; this occurred both in residential areas and town or city centres.
An eighth issue is the level of activity in the area or more specifically the levels of monitoring of different geographical areas from the same control room. Cameras installed in these areas were generally connected to large control rooms monitoring over a hundred cameras, so that even if the residential cameras received a proportionate amount of attention they would do very little monitoring. In fact, in most cases they were monitored less than proportionately. But the level of monitoring was probably more or less commensurate with the amount of activity in these areas (many residential areas were described by operators as extremely quiet).
(…) Where CCTV appeared to have an impact on particular crimes in residential areas or quieter town or city centres this was likely to work by deterrence. The lack of live monitoring meant that offenders were unlikely to be arrested on the spot and the research has shown that less monitored areas also provided less recorded evidence to the police.
A ninth point concerns the type of system. There were no long-term crime reduction effects from redeployable systems, but this was unsurprising, given their short – term nature. It is interesting and somewhat ironic that one of the major difficulties with these types of systems was managing the withdrawal of cameras; people liked them where they were and wanted more, not fewer. Many people could see deficiencies in the system, but such doubts rarely led them to conclude that what the cameras were doing was not worthwhile.
More generally, the report has avoided claiming that if all the shortcomings in the implementation of CCTV schemes are overcome, the result will be a favourable impact on crime. That cannot be shown to be the case. However, setting realistic objectives and using these to drive implementation, backed up by good management strategies and strong staff support are central tenets of the Investors in People accreditation, held up as a badge of good practice. It does not seem too much of a stretch to suggest that, where these are lacking, effectiveness will inevitably suffer. (…)”