WOULD these eyes stop you committing a crime?

The gaze is part of a new crime-prevention initiative that could cut crime in Worcester, according to a city psychology expert.

Researchers at Newcastle University say pictures of staring eyes placed above cycle racks around the North East campus reduced the number of bike thefts.

And Dr Scott Buckler, who specialises in applied psychology at the University of Worcester, said such posters could be “very effective” if placed in areas such as high streets and car parks.

He said that although there is no explanation why the eyes have reduced crime, theories could be drawn.

“The posters may subconsciously indicate to the potential thief that the bike belongs to a person; that there is a human element involved in the crime,” he said.

“A further explanation is that the poster may remind the would-be thief that we live in a surveillance society, that a security camera may be watching them.

“Indeed, given that most security cameras are above a person’s eyeline, we can tend to forget how often we are being observed.

“Ultimately, if used sparingly, I believe such posters could be very effective in other situations, such as the on the high street, in car parks, and so on.”

He added that other senses could also be used to deter would-be criminals, including smell.

“The smell of doughnuts is prevalent at the entrance of a supermarket to promote impulse buys,” he said.

“It would be interesting to research whether aroma could similarly reduce crime levels.”

Worcester News: The poster could cut crime in Worcestershire

But Worcester City Council, which spends around £65,000 a year on monitoring and maintaining CCTV cameras in the city, said the camera method was unlikely to change anytime soon.

“We are always interested in any techniques which could help to reduce crime in Worcester,” said Ruth Mullen, corporate director for service delivery with the local authority.

West Mercia Police uses a wide range of methods, including the use of compelling advertising. However, we believe that for now, CCTV is still an important weapon in deterring crime.”

During the experiment at Newcastle University, a team monitored all cycle racks in the campus, placing the eye signs above a number of them.
They found that thefts from those without signs rose by more than 60 per cent.

Lead researcher, Professor Daniel Nettle, said the presence of eye images could encourage “co-operative behaviour”.

“We don’t know exactly what is happening here but this just adds to the growing evidence that images of eyes can have a big impact on behaviour,” he said.


* Last week, ten cardboard cut-outs of police officers were placed around “crime and disorder hotspots” at Hull Royal Infirmary on Humberside.

* Last Christmas, Lancashire Police posted a video on YouTube of officers dressed in Santa hats and reindeer antlers, dancing jigs and pretending to arrest suspects in a bid to remind offenders they were still tackling crime over the festive period.

* In February 2012, father-of-four Kevin McCarthy built a fake speed camera outside his home in Ompton, Nottinghamshire after a local council refused to install a real one. He said traffic speeds dropped within a fortnight.

* In 2006, police and a local council in Sydney, Australia resorted to playing Barry Manilow songs, including Copacabana and Mandy, in a bid to disperse youngsters gathering in a car park.