Security Journal

, Volume 23, Issue 2, pp 134–154 | Cite as

“Not the Usual Suspects”: A study of factors reducing the effectiveness of CCTV

  • Hina KevalEmail author
  • Martina Angela Sasse
Original Article


Previous research on the effectiveness of Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) has focused on critically assessing police and government claims that CCTV is effective in reducing crime. This paper presents a field study that investigates the relationship between CCTV system design and the performance of operator tasks. We carried out structured observations and interviews with 13 managers and 38 operators at 13 CCTV control rooms. A number of failures were identified, including the poor configuration of technology, poor quality video recordings, and a lack of system integration. Stakeholder communication was poor, and there were too many cameras and too few operators. These failures have been previously identified by researchers; however, no design improvements have been made to control rooms in the last decade. We identify a number of measures to improve operator performance, and contribute a set of recommendations for security managers and practitioners.


CCTV control room security task performance human–computer interaction ergonomics 



This research was supported by an EPSRC grant (EP1P50064811). The authors gratefully acknowledge Peter Fry (ex-U.K. Chairman of the CCTV User Group) for providing the control room contacts. We are very grateful to all of the CCTV control room managers and operators who volunteered in this study. Without the support and assistance of these participants, the study would have not been possible. We also would like to credit the source and copyright of the photographs taken at the control rooms. We thank all reviewers for their constructive comments after reviewing a previous draft of this paper. We would also like to thank the editor Martin Gill for his help in publishing this paper.


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Computer ScienceUniversity College London, Malet Place Engineering BuildingLondonUK

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