Crime caught on camera: a game changer for criminology

NSCR researchers Marie Rosenkrantz Lindegaard and Wim Bernasco guest-edited an issue of the Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency. The issue is completely devoted to state-of-the art empirical research on crime as observed and recorded by surveillance cameras.

In their concluding essay, Lindegaard and Bernasco argue that criminologists rarely observe their actual object of study, criminal behavior. They propose that the current omnipresence of video recording devices may become a game changer for criminology as it provides an objective account of the behavior of perpetrators, victims, and bystanders. Below a brief summary of the contents of the articles published in this special issue:

  • Floris Mosselman, Don Weenink and Marie Rosenkrantz Lindegaard used CCTV footage of shop robberies reported to the police in Amsterdam and Rotterdam, the Netherlands, to explore how perpetrators use guns and other weapons. Not only to underline their lethal power, but also as a part of their bodily posturing aimed at achieving dominance.
  • Lasse Liebst, Marie Heinskou and Peter Ejbye-Ernst used CCTV footage of police reported violent cases in nighttime economy settings in Copenhagen, Denmark. They demonstrate that when bystanders intervene, their likelihood of victimization is low, and affected by group membership, incident setting, and type of intervention.
  • Dale Willits and Dave Makin used footage of body-worn cameras provided by the police, to study the effects of gender, race and behavioral factors on whether the police used force against citizens, and to study the type and severity of the force used.
  • Victoria Sytsma and Eric Piza used CCTV footage of open-air drug market transactions in Newark, to develop a crime script for drug sales that included three distinct phases within the criminal event.
  • Kim Møller used CCTV footage of cannabis transactions from the police in Copenhagen, Denmark. He used the recordings to estimate the monetary value of the trade, and to relate it to time of the day and weather conditions.
  • Anne Nassauer finally used CCTV recordings of convenience store robberies posted on online video platforms, to analyze why some robberies fail. She found that failure was most likely when robbery rituals were broken because perpetrators or victims displayed unexpected behaviors or emotions.


Publication details and further reading

Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, February 2018, Volume 55, Issue 1.

dr. Marie Lindegaard

About dr. Marie Lindegaard

Marie Rosenkrantz Lindegaard is an anthropologist and researcher at the NSCR. Her work focuses on the social mechanisms behind violent acts and victimisation, cultural explanations for crime, and situational approaches to violence. She specialises in ethnographic methods with particular attention to observational methods including analysis of CCTV footage.

Marie is a member of the Criminal Events Cluster.

See the website of the Video violence group.

Link to personal website.

View All Posts


Antokolskaia, M V; Coenraad, L M; der, Lans Marit Tomassen-van; van den Berg, C J W; Kaljee, J; Roorda, H N; Bijleveld, C C J H; Finkenauer, C; de Groot, G; Dirkse, M; Schellevis, T; Sijtesema, M C

Evaluatie pilot preventie vechtscheidingen en pilot regierechter echtscheidingen Technical Report

Raad voor de Rechtspraak 2017.

Links | BibTeX