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Effect of Internet access on crime rates? [Apr. 23rd, 2008|10:46 pm]
Criminology Hub
Wow, this community is like a ghost town huh? Not a single post in over three months. :-(

Anyway, remember me? I haven't posted here in forever myself, lol. But I have what I think are some good questions and thus I feel the need to. :-)

In another community I'm a member of, there is a discussion going on about a new CCTV surveillance system that is being installed in my city. (Buffalo, NY) All of the standard arguments relating to both the privacy issue and the potential effect on crime have been raised by both myself and other posters, but one has stuck out in my mind. This poster suggests that "ensuring that every family in inner city neighborhoods has access to the internet, so that the affordability of technology doesn't create another barrier for poor kids in Buffalo" is a better way of trying to reduce crime than citywide camera installation.

This person does not come from a criminology/criminal justice background like most of us here do, but I do have to say that this sounds like a good idea in theory. My questions are: 1) Are there any studies out there to suggest this would help reduce crime? I am not aware of any myself, and a cursory Google search hasn't turned up anything. 2) How would the expense of such a strategy compare to the cost of putting cameras on 100+ street corners?

Thanks to anyone with insight! :-)

[User Picture]From: billymack
2008-04-25 03:39 am (UTC)
I don't know about the cost of providing internet access. I do know that surveillance cameras are expensive.

I don't know if they reduce crime much, but they can be a huge aid in solving crimes. I was a school resource officer in an alternative school that had a good camera system. I solved a lot of crimes with that camera system that I don't think I would have solved otherwise.

It was friggin awesome. We even had some kids burglarize the school. They knew there were cameras, so they used jackets to cover their faces, but the camera footage gave me the leads to figure out who they were. The video was really funny too. They kept getting scared by the alarm system, and running around.

Now they're not 100%. I have a forgery and burglary that I've had open for over two years. They broke into an elementary school that didn't have video, but there was video at the WalMarts where they used the credit cards that they stole. I have one girl IDed, but no one will talk about who the second perp was.

Sorry if this isn't as scientific as you were looking for. I graduated 6 years ago, and I'm not really in the mood to read peer review articles any more.
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[User Picture]From: hillobeans
2008-04-27 02:27 pm (UTC)
I thought this was interesting, and probably cheaper than cameras..

High-pitched device drives teens from loitering spots
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[User Picture]From: gladeofheaven
2008-04-29 09:46 am (UTC)
As far as I am aware (which may not be very far lol), CCTV cameras do have a deterrent effect initially, but this wears off after a while (in the UK).
I dont know about the cost of any such things, but I bet there are a lot of inequality reduction measures that one could take that would reduce crime more than CCTV would. Although, as said above, I'm sure that CCTV is effective in solving crimes.

I cant make the link to the high pitched noise thing, but I've seen them talked about - I dont think I'd agree that they are a good idea. Instead of being a measure that prevents potential criminals committing crimes, they prevent all young people from 'loitering' - which is effectively just hanging around. The message this sends out is that young people are not welcome in our public spaces, if they dont feel included in public spaces then they are not going to feel included in society and then what is going to stop them committing crime?
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From: aisforapathy
2008-05-08 05:07 am (UTC)
Fair enough, but at some point just "hanging around" turns into being a complete and utter nuisance in many cases, right?

In my old neighborhood, there was this gentleman (he was probably in his 60s) who owned a local antique shop. All of the little "thug" youth of the area would congregate on the guy's porch on a daily basis and intentionally block customer access to the shop, effectively hurting the owner's business. People would try to get in but they'd be impeded just about every time, and it got to the point where they would call the cops from their cell phones to have them come down and disperse the punks before going anywhere near the shop. I wish I was exaggerating.

Matter of fact, at one point one of the youth had his pet pitbull with him and when the owner came outside to try and disperse the little gathering the kid threatened to unleash the dog on him. Call me crazy, but that doesn't qualify as hanging out just because one is bored after school. I'm afraid we no longer live in the society where a bunch of teenage friends getting together for a "Coke" is such a good thing.

So yeah, I'd have to say I'm for the idea, especially if it helps prevent local businesses from losing profits.
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[User Picture]From: countess3tl
2009-03-19 01:44 am (UTC)

Just a thought on the subject

Hello, I just thought the comments here were interesting and thought I'd give my opinion.

As a criminologist I have to say that I don't entirely agree with the idea that "internet access" to all will help reduce crime rates. CCTV as previously posted by "billymack" are known to help the authorities solve different crimes. I also believe that they should be put in areas where they can actually be used effectively. These surveillance camera's cost a lot of money and shouldn't be put on every single street corner, it will eventually lose its effect. Again, it differs from neighborhood to neighborhood.

As to the idea that internet access to all will help reduce crime, I have to say that it's probably to the contrary. Nowadays, people seem to self-educate more, in general this is a good thing, except when they start self-educating themselves on crime-related stuff, such as bomb-making using household items etc. Also, a lot of home-grown terrorists are using the internet to self-educate on matters of radicalization and martyrdom. I know this is a little far from the topic of "normal crime" but it's still something we should all be aware of. Information is power and unfortunately sometimes it can also be destructive.

Don't get me wrong, I certainly believe that everybody should have the opportunity to access the internet, but I just don't believe it can be seen as a "solution" to crime.

If any of you know of actual research done on the subject and they actually have evidence to support it, by all means, let me know where I can find it.
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