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Researchers look again at crime deterrence with Big Brother style posters

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By John Glenday, Reporter

April 24, 2013 | 2 min read

A new weapon in the fight against crime has been trialled by Newcastle University, inspired by research which found that individuals are less likely to misbehave when they believe someone is watching them.

To test the theory a pair of suitably piercing disembodied eyes were placed above several bike racks around campus to glare at passers-by to see what effect (if any) this would have on thefts.

Much to their surprise the research appears to be borne out by reality with crime rates plummeting 62 per cent at locations where the steady stare was deployed.

Lead researcher Prof Daniel Nettle, said: "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.

"We think that the presence of eye images can encourage co-operative behaviour. One strong possibility is that the images of eyes work by making people feel watched. We care what other people think about us, and as a result we behave better when we feel we are being observed."

The cheap and cheerful system has already piqued the interest of the British Transport Police, who are testing the notion at several train stations in a bid to curb anti-social behaviour.

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