OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the effect of city and town centre closed circuit television (CCTV) surveillance on violence in terms of accident and emergency (A&E) department and police assault data. METHODS: A&E department and local police assault data in three centres in Wales (Cardiff, Swansea, and Rhyl) two years before and two years after the installation of CCTV were studied. British Crime Survey and police crime statistics were used as control data. RESULTS: A&E records of 24,442 assault patients and 3228 violent offences recorded by the police were studied. Data from two A&E departments (Swansea (+3%) and Rhyl (+45%)) showed increases in recorded assaults after CCTV installation but a decrease (12%) in the largest centre, Cardiff. There was an overall reduction in town/city centre violence from the A&E department perspective of 1% in the two years after CCTV installation. In contrast, police data demonstrated changes in the opposite direction (-44%, -24%, and +20% respectively) contributing to an overall decrease of 9%. British Crime Survey and police statistics for England and Wales demonstrated no overall change and a 16% increase respectively. CONCLUSIONS: City centre CCTV installation had no obvious influence on levels of assaults recorded in A&E departments. There was a negative relationship between police and A&E recording in all three centres. A&E departments are important and unique sources of information about community violence.
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