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Are CCTV Cameras a Deterrent?

February 8th, 2024

Last updated: February 8th, 2024

Closed-circuit television (CCTV) systems have become very common in commercial properties, and the average person rarely notices when they walk or drive past one. CCTV is a key component of security measures.

The premise behind installing CCTV cameras is often to deter criminal activity as well as provide surveillance footage for investigation, and enhance overall safety. However, the effectiveness of CCTV as a deterrent in commercial settings has been a topic of debate. Are CCTV cameras a deterrent for criminals and what do some of the statistics and studies say about the addition of CCTV?

Deterring Crime With CCTV

The concept of deterrence in a commercial property suggests that the presence of surveillance measures, such as CCTV cameras, can dissuade individuals from engaging in criminal behaviour due to the risk of detection. There are even dummy cameras available that have the sole purpose of acting as a deterrent. According to the theory of deterring people, the visibility of surveillance equipment serves as a reminder of potential consequences, influencing decision-making processes and preventing people from criminal acts. Even those who are hardened criminals may choose to move on and target a business that does not seem so security conscious.

There are some studies out there relating to the efficiency of CCTV and whether or not they are a deterrent.

In 2008, Welsh and Farrington conducted a review of 44 different instances of CCTV, and they showed that CCTV caused around a 16% decrease in crime compared to control areas.

Police research also found that there was a 13% reduction in crime in areas with CCTV cameras.

So are CCTV cameras a deterrent? The answer seems to be “yes” based on the studies, but some people may think that 13% or 16% is not a huge difference. As well as just ensuring you have CCTV, you can also do more to make sure that you have an effective system. For example, linking this to a building management system or keyholding service can provide a fast response to any crime.

Deterrent is just one of the impacts of CCTV. Even if a crime does take place and hasn’t been deterred by the cameras, it is likely you will be glad you installed CCTV if you need to try and catch a criminal.

Some of the other factors relating to your CCTV system that can impact effectiveness include:

Visibility and Placement: The visibility and strategic placement of CCTV cameras play a crucial role in their deterrent effect. Cameras that are prominently displayed and easily noticeable are more likely to convey a sense of surveillance and increase the perceived risk for potential offenders.

Perceived Effectiveness: The perceived effectiveness of CCTV systems, including the quality of footage, monitoring capabilities, and response mechanisms, can impact their deterrent value. Property owners must ensure that CCTV systems are properly maintained, monitored, and integrated with other security measures to enhance their effectiveness.

Psychological Impact: The psychological impact of CCTV surveillance on individuals’ behaviour is an essential aspect of deterrence. Research suggests that the mere presence of surveillance cameras can influence individuals’ perceptions of risk and modify their behaviour, even in the absence of active monitoring. That’s why there are so many dummy cameras on sale.

Criminal Rationality: The effectiveness of CCTV as a deterrent also depends on the rationality of potential offenders. While some individuals may be deterred by the presence of surveillance cameras, others may be undeterred or find ways to avoid detection, especially if they perceive low probabilities of apprehension or lenient consequences.


So are CCTV cameras a deterrent? The effectiveness of CCTV as a deterrent in commercial properties depends on various factors, including visibility, and whether the cameras are monitored or linked to alarms. While CCTV systems can serve as valuable tools for enhancing security and deterring criminal activity, their effectiveness may vary based on context-specific factors and implementation strategies. Property owners and security professionals should carefully evaluate the potential benefits and limitations of CCTV surveillance while considering complementary security measures to ensure full protection of commercial properties.

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