Police cameras do reduce crime in monitored areas – but unfortunately crime is displaced to other areas. That is the central finding of research on Uruguay by Ignacio Munyo and Martin Rossi, to be presented at the Royal Economic Society”s annual conference at the University of Sussex in Brighton in March 2018.
The authors analyse detailed information on the location and exact date of installation of all police-monitored surveillance cameras in the Uruguayan capital Montevideo, coupled with daily data at the street-segment level on all reported crimes.
They find that the crime-reducing effects of the introduction of police-monitored surveillance cameras are large: police-monitored surveillance cameras reduce crime by 30% in monitored areas relative to unmonitored areas of the city.
So should policy-makers increase the number of surveillance cameras? Not necessarily, since little can be learned from finding that the increase of police monitoring in certain areas reduces crime relative to unmonitored areas. Policy action requires understanding whether or not the reduction in crime in monitored areas is compensated by a similar increase in other areas of the city.
When looking at these ”general equilibrium” effects, the authors report that the reduction in crime in police monitored areas of the city is compensated by an increase in crime in other areas of the city. In other words, criminals displace their activities to other, unmonitored, areas of the city.
These findings have important policy implications: surveillance cameras in certain areas of the city are not enough to reduce crime. The installation of surveillance cameras, however, seems to be an adequate instrument to keep certain areas of the city with low crime.
”Police-Monitored Cameras and Crime” by Ignacio Munyo and Martin A. Rossi is presented at RES Annual Conference 2018. Ignacio Munyo is at Universidad de Montevideo, in Uruguay. Martin A. Rossi is at Universidad de San Andres, in Argentina.
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