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The relationship between antisocial stereotypes and public CCTV systems: exploring fear of crime in the modern surveillance society

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Situational crime deterrence measures like CCTV are not always associated with reductions in fear of crime. This study explores this unexpected finding by investigating the interaction between target type and the presence of a CCTV camera, in order to test the effect this has on impressions of the target and corresponding fear of the location the target was shown in. Participants (n=120) were shown either a picture of a male 'skinhead', a 'studious' female, or no one within an urban setting in which an obvious CCTV camera was either present or absent. Participants then rated the scene using scales estimating crime frequency, worry and target activity. Estimates of location safety fell for the male 'skinhead' target and activity impressions were more negative, but only when a CCTV camera was also present. Ironically, in some circumstances, public crime deterrence measures may prime pre-existing negative stereotypes about others and so foster suspicion, undermine trust in others, and increase fear of crime.
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Keywords: CCTV; fear of crime; gender stereotypes; surveillance; trust

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Psychology, University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, UK

Publication date: October 1, 2009

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