San Francisco — A report released today evaluating San Francisco's surveillance cameras concludes that the cameras have failed in their mission to reduce violent crime in the city. Independent researchers at the University of California Berkeley conducted an outside evaluation of the City's ill-advised video surveillance program and issued today's report.
In line with similar studies from around the world, the report finds that San Francisco's video surveillance cameras do not make people safer. The cameras fail to prevent or reduce violent crime, including homicide. The cameras also have no effect on drug offenses or prostitution.
While some city officials have suggested that additional funding for active monitoring of the cameras would improve outcomes, the report cautions that such systems have also proved ineffective. For example, London has spent millions of dollars over the last ten years on actively-monitored cameras—one camera for every 13 people—that photograph people over 300 times a day. As in San Francisco, studies of London’s surveillance program revealed that crime rates haven't gone down, nor do people feel safer.
The UC Report concludes, "...given the lack of deterrent effect on violent crime and its limited usefulness with respect to investigations, it is clear that one of the questions the City must consider is whether or not to continue the CSC [community safety camera] program at all." (p 157).
Read the study report here.