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Surveillance by Employees

The mere presence of staff within an organisation can deter offenders because of the increased risks of apprehension. Such presence is especially effective at preventing spontaneous crimes such as graffiti, fare evasion and vandalism. Hence there are a range of occupations where vigilance can deter. These include bus conductors, car park attendants, caretakers, maintenance personnel, stewards and teachers to name but a few. Various research studies have illustrated the benefits of this type of surveillance. In a study of high-rise blocks Poyner and Webb (1987) found that the employment of caretakers or concierges reduced the level of vandalism and burglary and increased feelings of safety. In a study of double-decker buses with and without conductors Mayhew et al. (1976) found a higher level of criminal damage on those without conductors and that most damage occurred where there were areas of low supervision. Similarly, Sturman (1980) found that buses without conductors were more likely to experience vandalism.

In the retail environment a study of shoplifters by Butler (1994) found that the presence of shop staff was far more likely to deter offending than CCTV. Webb, Brown and Bennett (1992) discovered that crime in car parks can be significantly reduced by the presence of staff. One of the best illustrations of the benefits of employee surveillance is a study by van Andel (1989) on the public transport system in Amsterdam, Rotterdam and the Hague. After the decision to remove conductors from trams and buses during the 1960s an increase in petty crime and fare dodging had occurred. In 1984 the three public transport companies operating in the cities concerned were authorised to employ 1200 young unemployed people to act as 'VICs' (roughly translated as 'safety, information and control agents'). These young people received two to three months training, combining criminal law and ticket inspection practices. Their introduction led to a substantial reduction in fare dodging and a number of minor spin-offs. These included a small decline in the number of attacks upon passengers, and a reduction of graffiti and instances of criminal damage.