Police: Video surveillance doesn’t deter crime

CCTV too expensive and yields too little, police say to the disappointment of politicians that hoped for more extensive video surveillance in Copenhagen

A trial of 40 CCTV cameras that were installed in central Copenhagen’s pedestrian district will not be expanded, Berlingske newspaper reported today.

The video surveillance trials were planned to expand to the Nørrebro district as well as to the popular nightlife streets of Vestergade and Nørregade.

But the 40 cameras that are now keeping watch along the walking street Strøget will likely be Copenhagen’s only police surveillance according to the head of Copenhagen Police’s investigative unit, Svend Foldager.

“It’s extremely costly both collecting and storing the data so we have had to objectively and cynically assess the outcome. It has had no preventative effect,” Foldager told Berlingske. “We can use it to solve the occasional case and of course that is good but video surveillance really makes little difference.”

According to Peter Lauritsen, a surveillance expert and an associate professor at Aarhus University, research indicates that surveillance cameras make little impact on crime.

“Surveillance is often touted for its preventative effect on serious crime but research indicates that video surveillance has little effect,” Lauritsen told Berlingske. “A lot of violence occurs while people are under the influence, during which time the perpetrators are not thinking rationally about the cameras.”

City Council member Lars Aslan Rasmussen (Socialdemokraterne) hopes the police will change their mind.

“Experience from Glasgow shows that extensive CCTV surveillance does have a preventative effect,” Rasmussen told Berlingske. “We will continue to place pressure on the police because Copenhagen also needs surveillance especially to prevent stabbings and vandalism.”