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The first use by local government was in King's Lynn, Norfolk, in 1987.

These were deemed successful in the government report "CCTV: Looking Out For You", issued by the Home Office in 1994, and paved the way for an increase in the number of CCTV systems installed.

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Even so, there is political hostility to surveillance and several commentators downplay the evidence of CCTV's effectiveness, especially in the US.

Gill and Spriggs did a Cost-effectiveness analysis (CEA) of CCTV in crime prevention that showed little monetary saving with the installation of CCTV as most of the crimes prevented resulted in little monetary loss.

Today, systems cover most town and city centres, and many stations, car-parks and estates.

However, several researchers have pointed to methodological problems associated with this research literature.

In private sector CCTV surveillance technology is operated in a wide variety of establishments such as in industry/manufacturing, retailing, financial/insurance/banking, transportation and distribution, utilities/communications, health care, and hotels/motels.